If there's anything thing I hate more than cooking, it's cooking for one. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration -- I don't hate cooking nearly as much as I used to -- but when I'm flying solo for dinner I'd rather go out than slave over a cup of Ramen. Finding myself alone and hungry on Thursday night, I headed over to Mockingbird Bistro to see what was happening on their "5 at 5 for $5" happy hour menu.
The Mockingbird happy hour menu changes periodically, although I noticed a few items were the same, or similar, as the last time I was there. I was feeling adventurous, and with encouragement from my waiter I went with the veal sweetbreads with grilled Portobello, crispy pancetta, and Romesco sauce.
On the plus side, this was a delicious appetizer: the crispy pancetta was a nice textural counterpoint to the soft, warm sweetbreads; the Romesco sauce was lively and acidic, rich and tangy. Considering that sweetbreads aren't my "thing," I was really happy with the taste profile -- I experienced none of that musty flavor I associate with the innards of things.
The flip side of that was that my excitement about being adventurous was a bit quashed by the lack of exotic flavors. While the pancetta was very crisp, I have to admit that it wasn't at all distinguishable from regular old bacon, and also lacking any hint of saltiness, which I think the dish could have used to highlight the sweetness of the Romesco. What of the Portobello? The mushroom was buried under the pancetta and the sauce, and it seemed a little like an afterthought. I could certainly have lived without it, and I don't think it added much to the overall dish in either flavor or texture.
That said, this was ultimately a lovely little bite of sweetbreads, and my fear of innards continues to diminish. I don't think that the $10.51 I paid for the dish and my glass of wine is too high a price to pay for that kind of horizon-expanding food experience.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.