Here, Eat This

Four Things You Should Know Before Ordering the Whole Foie Gras at Provisions

Foie gras is one of those things that people either love or hate. Those who hate it can stop reading now; this won’t be useful. For those who love it, keep reading because there will be invaluable insight into what you can expect when you order the whole foie gras at Provisions.

Yes, you read that right: whole foie gras. As in two lobes that in total weigh approximately one-and-a-half pounds, cooked as one giant hunk that is meant to be shared. It’s been on my bucket list of things to try in Houston for at least a couple of years now, and thanks to three friends—adventurous eaters who weren’t in the least bit intimidated by what lay in store, we ordered it earlier this week.

Here’s what foie gras lovers should know before they take the plunge:

1. Diners can order it anytime, without advance notice.

It seemed like the whole foie gras had to be something that was an off-menu special. When I made my reservation on Open Table, I put in a note under the comments section to let them know that we’d be ordering to prevent us arriving to find that it had been 86’d. But during a pre-dinner drink at the bar, lead bartender Stuart Humphries quickly dispelled this misconception. “You don’t have to reserve it in advance at all. It’s always on the menu,” he reassured me. Sure enough, there it was, the last line item on the dinner menu under the “Meat” category, where it's basically hiding in plain sight. It reads: “Whole Roasted Foie Gras/Bread Accompaniments, $125”

2. Three people, minimum, are needed to do justice to the dish.

Two people could try to order the whole foie gras, but that would be inadvisable. Three people is still quite a stretch. Four people makes a little more sense, but our party of four threw in the towel without finishing the whole lobe, so if I did it again, I’d probably try to corral a group of five or six to come with me. Look at it this way: Most restaurants serve between two and four ounces of foie gras per order. At an average of one-and-a-half pounds, we were potentially looking at 24 ounces of foie gras, which would mean eight ounces per person if we were a party of three, or six ounces per person if we were a party of four.

The reality of it is that foie gras is just so rich that people can only eat so much. We ended up eating about four ounces per person, with a good four- to five-ounce chunk left over.

3. You will get more than your money’s worth.

Unbeknownst to me, when I envisioned the whole foie gras, I didn’t really get the whole picture of what that entailed. You get the full foie gras lobe in a large round skillet, yes, and it is drool-worthy and pretty darn impressive in and of itself. But before the foie hits the table, first a big square plate teeming with artisanal, house-baked breads, fancy spreads (e.g. beer jelly, raspberry mostarda) and house made pickles arrives. Fancy bread plate and whole foie gras, too? Such a score.

4. Forget Instagram.

It’s a try-before-you-die dish, so people should chronicle it for posterity right? Wrong. When the hot pan hit the table, it was all we could do not to jump in en masse and grub. I barely had time to snap a couple of decent photos before we all dug in. Seriously, don't waste time trying to get the perfect shot. Roasted foie gras is meant to be eaten hot, so don’t worry and just enjoy.
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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham