Top 5 Snail Dishes in Houston

Next year I should give up shelled creatures for Lent, so strong is my liking for crabs, lobster, oysters....and snails! Escargot isn't exactly something you can pick up at the market, so I'm always on the lookout for restaurants with interesting land mollusk options. Here are five that have caught my eye:

5. L'Escargot on a Baguette at L'es-Car-Go

Butter + garlic + snails + bread. Simple ingredients but rich in flavor and the perfect lunch for a slightly chilly spring day. I really hope the next stop for L'es-Car-Go is a permanent storefront because I'm wasting far too much time tracking them around town.

4. Escargot "Black Forest" at Charivari

A more robust preparation (Burgundy wine, herbs, butter, bread crumbs) of the snails makes for an earthier dish that pairs well with a hearty entrée of veal or wienerschitzel. Or just request a triple order and call it a meal.

3. Escargot en Croute at Sambuca

If I weren't biased for all things en croute, I would still love these escargot ensconced in butter, spinach and Gouda under a puff pastry mantle. It's snail pot pie at its finest, an appetizer that demands not to be shared.

2. Pesca Escargot at Pesca World Seafood

Granted, shoe leather would taste good in a piquant lemon cream sauce laced with tangy sun-dried tomatoes and tender artichokes. But this gorgeous dressing miraculously highlights rather than hides the taste of the mollusks. Feed this to any dining companion who swears he could never eat snails.

1. Burgundy Escargot at Brasserie 19

Burgundy escargot is not, as I initially assumed, snails bathing in a pool of red wine (for that see No. 4 on this list!). The name rather refers to a special breed of snails from the burgundy region of France that are usually prepared with garlic, parsley and butter. Brasserie 19 infuses theirs with lemon and adds a delicate pastry crown that practically evaporates in your mouth.

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Joanna O'Leary