This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape. It's a list to drool over.
For years I didn't eat foie gras because I thought it was cruel. My oh-so-cultured parents made the mistake of taking me to a goose farm in France where foie gras was made, and after that, I ceased to associate foie gras with dinner, instead associating it with the poor little fat geese on that farm.
I have since come around to foie gras in a huge way. There are few things I like more than a buttery torchon or a perfectly seared oval of foie on top of pasta. And now I have a new obsession: Thin, crispy french fries topped with foie. If ever two things were meant to be paired, it's warm, fatty duck liver and fried potatoes. Mon dieu!
Brasserie 19 is known for its French bistro fare, but I consider the Lazy Lane Frites (an appetizer on the menu) more of a fusion dish than French bistro food. My memories of French french fries include potatoes and salt and little else. Not so with Brasserie 19's masterpiece of a fry dish.
The Lazy Lane Frites are served in a big bowl -- bigger than I anticipated for an appetizer -- of slightly curly, dark orangey-brown fries tossed in sauce au poivre, grated Parmesan, truffle oil and and chives. Then the mound of frites is topped with a generous portion of seared foie gras. Sound over-the-top? It is, but in the best way.
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Somehow the fries manage to stay crispy even under the thick pepper gravy, and the truffle oil flavor is delicate enough that it doesn't overwhelm the entire dish. The earthy Parmesan and bright chives add minute flavor nuances to each bite. And then there's the foie gras, which is so rich that I ate it every other bite or so only, using the (also quite rich) fries to cleanse my palate.
The appetizer portion is a meal in itself, and though it's one of the more expensive plates of french fries in town ($19), it's a steal for the amount of food and foie you get.
While munching on these fries during a recent meal at Brasserie 19, I also discovered the perfect drink pairing: Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Ale. It's a natural ginger soda that tastes more like ginger beer than its sweeter cousin ginger ale, and the crisp acidity of the ginger is refreshing in between bites of the meaty fries and foie. Much to my surprise, it was the ideal combination of light, refreshing drink with heavy, comforting food.
The list so far: No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac No. 72: Chicken Pot Pie at Kenny & Ziggy's