Fall means looking forward to more than just oyster season, chili cook-offs and pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. It means that plenty of our favorite restaurants (and, yes, bars too) across the city are issuing new seasonal menus for the autumn months. Here's a list of the 10 we're looking forward to sampling the most, kicking off with one of Reserve 101's new fall cocktails.
10. Thunder Road at Reserve 101
The whiskey bar with the city's best selection has a full fall cocktail menu in store, but we're most excited about the Thunder Road. It comes with Balcones Baby Blue (from Waco), bacon syrup, muddled cherries and orange, and bitters shaken and double strained over ice splash of club soda, garnished with cherry and orange.
9. Lobster ravioli at Arturo Boada Cuisine
We already love the pastas (and pizzas) at Arturo Boada's Tanglewood-area restaurant, and we're likely to fall equally in love with his housemade ravioli stuffed with lobster and cheeses and topped with a vodka tomato cream sauce.
8. Chicken pot pie for two at Kenny & Ziggy's
Chicken pot pie is one of our favorite fall dishes anyway, and it's always satisfying to see this heavy-hitter come back on the menu each fall. In keeping with Kenny & Ziggy's tradition of serving heaping helpings, this chicken pot pie is large enough to feed two -- so order accordingly.
7. Chiles en nogada at Ninfa's on Navigation
This dish is a fall favorite in Mexico when pomegranates are in season. Chef Alex Padilla's version features a roasted chile stuffed with shredded pork, apples, raisins and almonds and topped with a walnut sauce. Save room for dessert, too, as you'll want to try Ninfa's new molé ice cream with the texture of gelato and intense notes of chocolate, clove and nutmeg balanced with just the right amount of heat.
6. Venison carpaccio at Quattro
Deer season in Texas just opened on September 29, so expect to see venison start making its annual appearance on seasonal menus. At Quattro, you'll find a carpaccio served with Brussels sprouts, chestnuts and a berry dressing. But we're also looking forward to the hearty-sounding tripe ravioli and Gulf shrimp with an heirloom tomato sauce and Pecorino shavings.
5. Butternut squash-stuffed panzotti at L'Olivier
At his blog, Delicious Mischief, radio host John DeMers gives us a preview of some exceptional-sounding dishes at chef Olivier Ciesielski's French bistro. Of particular note are the panzotti stuffed with butternut squash, Parmesan, fresh sage and grated nutmeg, each one topped with a slice of black truffle.
4. Cornmeal-crusted San Leon oysters at Bistro Alex
Visit Brennan's little sister restaurant in CityCentre for a more modern and relaxed version of the upscale Cajun food that placed Brennan's on the map. This fall, chef Roland Alonzo has put together some seasonal favorites such as cornmeal-crusted San Leon oysters with a smoky tomato aioli and a Black Hill Ranch pork chop with cracked pepper biscuit bread pudding, citrus braised greens and house-made Worcestershire demiglace.
3. Beef belly meatballs and duck fat biscuits at Max's Wine Dive
Absolutely everything on chef Michael Pellegrino's new fall menu looks divine: lemon-poppyseed muffins with uni butter; foie gras and escargot with a gremolata crème fraiche and tawny port-macerated blueberries; duck confit tarte tatin and egg yolk with Cheesy Girl goat cheese; and lengua pot roast with mousseline parsnips and green curry carrots are just a few of the dishes that we must try this year.
2. Sweetbread "piccata" at Roost
Although the menu at this Montrose bistro changes more than seasonally -- it nearly changes with the week -- here are some of the dishes you can expect to find throughout the fall: sweetbread "piccata" with cauliflower puree and veal jus; chicken 'n' dumplings with gnocchi dumplings; and braised beef cheeks with vadouvan-spiced potatoes, chilies and cilantro.
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1. Lunch at Triniti
If you've been looking for the perfect time to try Triniti, this fall is for you. Chef Ryan Hildebrand and his team have added vegetarian and dessert-tasting menus at dinner as well as a $24 three-course prix fixe meal at lunch. At dinner, look for dishes such as the oxtail broth with steamed dumplings and asparagus or pheasant with button mushrooms, bacon, broccoli and gizzard gravy. For lunch, get a greens and fig salad with roasted figs and goat's milk yogurt or try the pork schnitzel with roasted carrots, potato roti and a Mornay sauce.