Strata Debuts New Fall Menu

It's that time of year again, when all the city's best chefs are rolling out their new autumn menus. I tasted Chef John Ly's latest offerings at his boutique restaurant in Tomball (122 Vintage Park), and let me tell you, everything was as good as I had hoped.

For appetizers, which Ly calls "Beginnings," he's offering hearty comfort food dishes like butternut squash ravioli and Housemade Habanero Deathlinks (sausages). I tried the duck confit spring rolls, which featured a ridiculously crispy wrapping encasing a seven-secret-spice-seasoned duck confit. The textures and flavors were perfection. Sharing plate space with the crispy spring rolls was a fresh crab salad with giant white chunks of crab, fresh avocado and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. It was light and refreshing.

The soup and salad -- roasted tomato poblano bisque served in a small espresso cup next to a lovely roasted pear salad -- was delicious. I was especially fond of the seafood course, which was crispy skinned, flaky halibut and sundried tomato hominy plated with shrimp n' coarse blue corn grits.

Filet and short ribs exemplified the beef offerings. And a decadent white chocolate bread pudding competed with Chocolate Nirvana for best dessert of the night.

The great thing about Chef Ly is that he understands the concept of complementary tastes and textures. He likes you to try each of the different dish elements with every bite, which really does make the meal more pleasurable. Crunchy, chewy, spicy, sweet -- all the taste essentials you would want are represented in every taste.

After trying all the mouthwatering courses, I told my dining companion that I actually could feel the impending weather change. I started thinking about Halloween costumes, turkey dinners and decorating a Christmas tree. It was strange how just eating a meal made me ready for the new season. Of course, once I stepped into the humid, hot night, all bets were off.

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