Spring is right around the corner. And with it come peak-season vegetables like artichokes, peas and the subject of this post, asparagus. Not only is the delicately flavored garden vegetable delicious, it's an excellent source of vitamin B, calcium, magnesium, zinc, fiber and protein, among other good things.
Get rid of those winter blues by checking out these five asparagus dishes from some of Houston's best and brightest:
1. Beer Battered Asparagus at Hearsay Gastro Lounge
With dark exposed brick walls and a gorgeous vintage crystal chandelier at its center, this cozy restaurant in Market Square Park is the perfect spot for a drink and a nosh. One of our favorite small plates remains the Saint-Arnold-battered asparagus ($6). The almost tempura-like beer batter coats the bright green spears just so, resulting in an incredibly crispy-but-not-greasy crunch. A light dusting of grated cheese brings a nutty and salty finish.
Head to the stunning Up Restaurant for Chef Joseph Macri's Italian take on the classically French asparagus soup. Smooth, thick and creamy, the luscious soup is elevated with jumbo asparagus spears, two-year-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, toasted pine nuts, house-made foccacia croutons, and a light and airy limoncello foam. The result is bright, nutty and decadent all at once.
For a clean and balanced broth, try Tan Tan's silky crab asparagus soup, made with egg whites, white asparagus and chunks of crab meat. The dish seems light and simple, but the depth of flavor is quite complex.
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3. Balsamic Eggs & Asparagus at Adair Kitchen
This Galleria-area restaurant serves home-style comfort food in a bright and welcoming atmosphere all day long. But it's the breakfast that really gets us. Their simple yet elegant poached egg and grilled asparagus dish ($7.50) is a light and sumptuous start to your day. Topped with a sweet and syrupy balsamic glaze, the fat asparagus and egg are served with a baked parmesan tomato and a side of white or wheat toast.
4. Asparagus Two Ways at BRC Gastropub
BRC is known for outrageous fare -- like its foie gras poutine or jalapeño-potato-chip chicken-fried steak -- and these two asparagus dishes are no different. For a small taste of heaven, order the asparagus side ($6) -- a plate of plump, char-grilled asparagus topped with toasted orange peel, a cooked egg and the restaurant's famous bacon jam. If you're looking for a full meal, the green-garlic-dressed, fried-oyster-, avocado- and poached-egg-topped Asparagus Mimosa Salad ($13.50) can't be beat.
Either way you go, mapley-bacon is involved. So you really can't go wrong...
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5. Asparagus Mike Wells at Damian's Cucina Italiana
Named after frequent diner and Rodeo chairman Mike Wells, this parmesan-crusted, deep-fried asparagus is topped with jumbo lump crab meat that's been tossed in a lemon, white wine and garlic butter sauce. The spears ($15 for a plate of four fat ones) get some extra crunch from a double dip in flour and from the bits of panko bread crumbs mixed with the parmesan cheese before coating.
We can certainly see why the dish was Wells's favorite, but for a lighter take, the prosciutto-wrapped chilled asparagus appetizer ($10) is equally satisfying.
What are your favorite asparagus dishes in town?