Like many Houstonians, I haven’t really been out and about much this past week. There are still closed roads and unintended lakes around my house. It’s easy to leave, but we've found out the hard way that it’s difficult to get back.
That means this is a great opportunity to catch up and highlight a few spectacular dishes that I learned about just before starting this series three weeks ago. These are among the best dishes in Houston, and I’m happy to showcase them. All are verified to still be available.
Tiger Shrimp Carpaccio at Weights + Measures, 2808 Caroline
This graceful, beautiful dish really captures chef Richard Kaplan at his most masterful. The slices of shrimp are so thin that you can see the plate right through them. It’s a surprising, creative and delicate take on carpaccio enhanced with fresh herbs, pyramid-shaped salt crystals and a touch of good olive oil. The dish is not always available. However, when I asked Kaplan if it was still around since I was featuring it this week, he offered to serve it as part of the regular menu through Saturday. So, you're welcome.
The rest of the time, call ahead to 713-654-1970 to see if it’s available. It’s a big reward for taking a little time to make that call.
Foie Gras Parfait at Provisions, 807 Taft
Do you know about Provisions' $25 three-course prix fixe lunch? Well, you do now! It’s a tremendous value, and the courses can be shockingly decadent. Take, for example, the foie gras parfait, one of the appetizer choices. The silky-smooth mix of foie gras, chicken livers, butter and eggs is a rare luxury to see when modest midday meal choices are the norm. Go big, go bold and get the prix fixe at Provisions for a memorable lunch.
Wild Mushroom-Stuffed Heritage Chicken at La Table, 1800 Post Oak
If you missed our rave review of La Table, the far superior replacement for Table On Post Oak, you may have missed the description of the whole chicken presented table-side in the formal Chateau dining room upstairs. There are aspects of this presentation that manage to be endearing, funny and warm all at the same time. It's hard not to crack a smile at the fluffy "tail" constructed of long-stemmed fresh herbs, and yet it's very elegant, too. The chicken comes perched atop its own side dishes of wild mushrooms and a veritable rainbow of braised green beans and carrots.
You should probably go read the full review now.
Oven Roasted Prime Rib at Bistecca, 224 Westheimer
Despite some disappointing food experienced during dinner, I fell hard for this gorgeous prime rib specimen at Bistecca — as well as everything else on the plate. Creamy, buttery whipped potatoes and green beans are classic sides because they simply go so well with beef. There's a beautiful puddle of jus on the plate. Not in this photo is the little pitcher that held more sauce. Of course, we made a well in our whipped potatoes and filled it with sauce. I mean, wouldn't you?
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Cheese Enchiladas at Tony's Mexican Restaurant, 2222 Ella
I can't stop thinking about these cheese enchiladas at Tony's Mexican Restaurant, and I think the reason is that they epitomize everything I'm looking for in the dish. The ends of each enchilada had crisped in the oven, a sure sign that all the cheese inside would be gooey and melted. The dish is hot enough that the server issues the standard "Careful, hot plate" warning, so the enchiladas stay hot, too. For a meal so humble, the details sure are important. Twice in the past year, I've been served enchiladas in which the cheese was not melted inside. I may have just been desperate for proper ones and seeing these through rose-colored glasses, but not every stupid affection should necessarily be denied.
That's it for this week, and let's all hope the bayous continue to drain, the rains stop and the streets become passable again in the most severely flooded areas of Houston.