Ah, the holidays. Time for pictures with Santa, decorating Christmas trees, ugly sweater parties and, of course, eating. If your loved one is an avid gourmand, ’tis the season for extravagant expenditure. Here, we suggest five Houston dishes that are definitely worth the splurge.
5. State of Grace Seafood Tower at State of Grace, $149
True, you can take your pick of seafood towers all over Houston. When you order the signature “State of Grace” seafood tower, however, you and your party won’t be able to help yourselves from swooning over the sumptuous display oysters, scallops, clams, lobster claws, King crab, crab cocktail, crab claws, and shrimp. Come early and snag seats in the gorgeously appointed, first-come-first-served Oyster Room, or reserve one of the roomy booths underneath the trophy wall for extra splurge-worthiness.
4. Lobster stuffed with crab at Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette (LKRO), $70
You can take your pick of splurges at Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette. Royal sturgeon caviar service for $150? They’ve got it. Table side 12 ounce prime rib service on Thursdays for $50? You can’t go wrong. But for something that’s unique to the LKRO menu, the 2 pound lobster stuffed with crab is sure to give that special someone gastronomic bliss. Executive Travis Lenig takes the lobster, cuts it in half, then pan sears and roasts the lobster to bring out its naturally sweet, oceanic flavors. Meanwhile, the claws are taken off and boiled before they are de-shelled and tossed with lump crab in a made-to-order butter sauce with shallot, garlic, Bourbon. With 24-hour notice, Lenig says you can reserve larger poundage of lobster ($35/pound). The dish also comes with two sides.
3. Parmesan Crusted Rack of Lamb at La Table, $50/per person
There’s something so wonderfully grand and luxuriously self indulgent about the ages-old art of table side service. At La Table, the French fine dining restaurant previously known as Table on Post Oak, let yourself be wowed by a new brand of five-star service that Invest Hospitality, the restaurant’s management firm, has brought to Houston. Currently, there are three options for table side service, which include a wild mushroom-stuffed Heritage chicken ($35/per person), 32 ounce ribeye ($45/per person), and parmesan crusted rack of lamb ($50/per person), which is the most decadent — and the biggest splurge — of the three choices. Cooked to order and crusted with parmesan, the rack of lamb is wheeled out to the table in a silver cart, where it is sliced and served right in front of you. Potato puree, caponata and lamb jus complete the experience.
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2. Veal Rossini topped with Foie Gras and Choice of Truffle at Le Mistral, $49 or $89
Chef David Denis’ classically prepared veal Rossini is a lavish feast for the eyes as well as the senses. Six ounces of impeccably prepared, tender, flavorful veal tenderloin are pan-seared in butter. A plump-cut, seared tranche of melt-in-your mouth Hudson Valley foie gras goes on top. The veal and foie gras are then sandwiched between two generous slices of truffle, their heady aroma luscious, earthy, seductive. A small gravy boat filled with truffle-infused veal demi-glace accompanies the dish, which is so delicious, you might be tempted to drink the remaining sauce like soup. All this sits atop a small rounded piece of toasted bread, which soaks up all amazing flavors of the foie, veal and gravy for a blow-your-mind experience. Guests can opt to choose between black truffle ($49) or the highly prized white Alba truffle ($89), both imported from Italy by DRDelicacy. The mouthwatering tower is beautifully served on a round wooden block for added wow factor.
1. Salt crusted whole snapper at Tony's or Vallone's, $39 per person
For more than two decades, Tony's legendary salt-crusted snapper, an off-menu special item available only by 24-hour advance reservation, has captivated the hearts and palates of discerning Houstonians. Available for parties of two to 200, the head-tuner of a dish was recently served at Tony's 50th anniversary charity gala. The huge triangular salted dome is set aflame before making its way to your table on a silver platter. There, it is gently cracked open with a hammer before the thick sheets of the salt crust are carefully removed to reveal the whole, peach and orange-hued snapper inside. Tony's service staff will then serve the fish in individual plates, with all the skin and bones removed, so that you can enjoy the moist and and delicate fish accompanied by Tony's signature Barolo reduction. For an even bigger splurge, spring for a dish of hand-made tagliarini topped with choice of Osetra caviar ($145) or white Alba truffle ($95), also available this holiday season.