What originally started as Houston Restaurant Week (HRW) has, over the years, become something of a monthlong phenomenon. Back in the day, you’d have maybe 20 HRW menus to peruse. HRW used to be offered only during dinner, and you had just one week to go on an eating binge to try as many of those menus as you could. Because of the success of the fundraising event (HRW proceeds benefit the Houston Food Bank), one week grew into two weeks, then four weeks, and this year, 2015, it will be offered for five whole weeks, August 1 through September 7.
There are also more than 100 participating restaurants this year, many of them offering not just dinner but also lunch and brunch options. For dinner, there are also $35 and $45 menus. Just deciding where to go is a mind-boggling affair, which is where Eating Our Words comes in. We’ve done the research so that you don’t have to. Here are our picks for the five best Houston Restaurant Weeks Dinner Menus for 2015. Get ready to book your tables.
5. Tony’s — $45
Let’s face it, unless you’re part of Houston society, dining at Tony’s is probably reserved for special occasions. Houston’s most enduring fine-dining restaurant still enforces a dress code (gentlemen, that means you have to wear jackets), and its menu is definitely on the higher side of high end. Houston Restaurant Weeks is one of those times when you can experience Tony’s and not worry too much about overspending. It’ll also let you get in the door so you can taste some of chef de cuisine Kate McLean’s excellent talents. The menu also happens to be mouthwatering. We suggest starting with the corn pansoti, or, for a totally worth-it up-charge of $19, the summer truffle soufflé, finished at the table with freshly shaved summer truffles imported from Italy. As a second course, choose from chicken francese, involtini of veal marsala, salmon with ruby red grapefruit, or center cut truffled medallions of beef with cognac and foie gras-scented favata ($12 supplement). Dessert includes four choices, such as a Texas peach cheesecake, Oregon blackberry crostata or the individual soufflé ($8 supplement). Yes, you can upgrade your meal beyond the $45, but you don’t have to, and it will still be a wonderful meal. Suggested wines include a 2013 la fiera, pinot grigio (veneto) for $39, or a 2012 poggio brigante, morellino di scansano (Tuscany) for $48 — both extremely reasonably priced.
4. Churrascos and Americas — $35
Michael Cordúa introduced Houstonians to his native country’s beef tenderloin — the churrasco— more than 20 years ago, and today that tender, flavorful chargrilled center-cut tenderloin topped with chimichurri sauce is still the heart and soul at all of his Cordúa restaurants. For Houston Restaurant Weeks, all Churrascos and Américas locations are offering that famous churrasco steak (six-ounce cut) on the $35 menu, with an option to upgrade to eight-ounce ($10), ten-ounce ($20) and 12-ounce ($29) cuts for those who want more meat. In addition to the churrasco, guests can choose from six other entrée choices, such as the Scottish salmon, gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic), asado en salsa setas (grilled petite filet in mushroom sauce) and more. There are also six appetizers to choose from, including delicious empanadas and ahi tuna ceviche. And for dessert, though there are three desserts, what else should you choose but the famous tres leches?
3. Etoile Cuisine et Bar — $45
Chef and owner Philippe Verpiand was just inducted into the prestigious Master Chef of France association earlier this year, a group of elite French chefs around the world who have demonstrated a mastery of French culinary arts. His HRW menu is a tribute to the French classics he does so well, and will make a fine meal if you're craving French cuisine. Start with a traditional escargots de bourgogne, beef tartare, goat cheese salad, or cucumber and shrimp gazpacho. For your main dish, try his sole meunière or his braised beef short ribs topped with summer vegetables and a cabernet syrup. Better yet, the cuisse de canard confit duck leg with fingerling potatoes sounds so quintessentially French that it should definitely be on your short list. End the evening with lovely île flottante (vanilla floating island), pot de crème au chocolat (dark chocolate custard), or a napoleon of raspberry or pistachio.
2. Table on Post Oak — $35
If you haven’t been to Table on Post Oak lately, here’s your chance to sample some of executive chef Manuel Pucha’s delectable cuisine. Seriously, his HRW menu is one of the best we’ve seen, so good in fact that after you experience it once, you may just be tempted to come back. To start, would you like something called Collossal Lump Crab? Not only is it beautiful, but it’s delicious and different from anything else you’ll find in the city, incorporating Asian and Latin flavors along with local ingredients. Foie gras lovers can also rejoice, because included on the appetizer portion of the menu is a seared foie gras dish with cherries jubilee. Fresh truffles are available on this menu, too. For a $10 supplement, you can get Italian Summer truffles shaved table-side over an entrée of spring pea ravioli. Rounding out the entrée choices are a superb peach glazed duck breast, roasted salmon over asparagus risotto, or roasted half chicken. For dessert, there’s a to-die-for "Valrohna" chocolate soufflé served with housemade vanilla ice cream, as well as crème brûlée, frozen yogurt with fresh berries, or a key lime pie. Make sure you don't miss out on the ridiculously affordable (and excellent) wine pairing.
1. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse — $45
For the past four years, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse has been the No. 1 Houston Restaurant Weeks donor to the Houston Food Bank. This means that for four consecutive years, the restaurant has served more HRW meals than any other restaurant in Houston. The reason? Not only does Del Frisco's pamper you with excellent service when you walk through the door, but the chance to feast on a superbly done steak is just too good to pass up. This year, executive chef Steve Haug is offering two types of salads and a delicious poblano cream soup to start. For entrées, you’ll have a choice of an eight-ounce broiled filet mignon, cooked to order, as well as filet medallions, pan-seared salmon or pan-roasted chicken. For an $18 supplement, guests can also partake of a 16-ounce prime strip, 12-ounce filet mignon or 16-ounce rib eye. There’s also a spectacular ten-ounce tempura fried lobster tail with crab fried rice available for a $14 supplement. Desserts include a choice of cheesecake, warm banana bread pudding or chocolate mousse. To complement the meal, there's also a featured cocktail as well as four featured bottles of specially priced wines.