Upcoming Events: Last-Minute New Year's Eve Plans and New Menus for the New Year

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Still no plans for New Year's Eve? You only have a few days left to plan, but here's a last-minute suggestion that features some of the most important dishes for celebrating the New Year: oysters, cabbage and greens. (No black-eyed peas, but you can make yourself a pot of those the next day as a combination hangover cure/good luck charm.)

Down House has planned an evening of food, friends, music and festivities for its second annual New Year's Eve bash. The evening includes a four-course dinner paired with beer, wine and cocktails, a Champagne toast at midnight, a live DJ and dancing -- it's everything you could possibly want in one, tidy package.

The menu features the following courses:

  • Raw Gulf oysters on the half shell
  • Seasonal green salad
  • Honey-glazed roast quail, spicy rice grits, tempura greens and dashi
  • Braised short ribs, roast oyster mushrooms, rumbledethumps and an herb salad
  • A special New Year's Eve dessert

The $100 ticket price includes tax and gratuity (this is seriously a steal), and a ticketed reservation is required. Tickets can be purchased through Event Brite or in person at the restaurant.

If you haven't yet tried Peruvian favorite Latin Bites, chef Roberto Castre has created the perfect menu to get acquainted with his South American cuisine. The Tanglewood-area restaurant is kicking off the new year by introducing a series of monthly Chef Tasting menus, starting on Tuesday, January 15.

Castre invites visitors to explore new menus every month, each with a special theme and seasonally-inspired ingredients. In addition, diners will be able to mingle and talk with visiting mixologists, winemakers and other guest chefs. After the initial dinner on January 15, Latin Bites will host these Chef Tasting nights on the second Tuesday of every month.

The first dinner runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and will feature six courses. The cost is $60 a person, with an additional $30 for wine pairings or $40 for cocktail pairings. (We don't recommend doing both.) Call 713-229-8369 for reservations.

In celebration of Roost's one-year anniversary, chef Kevin Naderi is rolling out a whole new menu - almost. "We're honored to have such great support and people who appreciate that our menu is always evolving," said Naderi, "but I also wanted to bring a few of the favorites back as we celebrate our first anniversary."

Those old favorites include the bread service from Slow Dough with Naderi's special pimento cheese-infused butter, his country-fried Bandera quail served with jalapeno pickles, a buttery biscuit and cream gravy and, of course, his famous roasted cauliflower with bonito flakes. New menu items include a quinoa-and-spinach-stuffed poblano pepper with red beet hash and chocolate mole, Patagonia salmon served with dill and garlic creamed cabbage and a wild mushroom strudel topped with blue cheese mousse, arugula and hazelnut oil.

The new menu and a new year doesn't mean that a few other old favorites aren't sticking around too, though: Roost's extremely generous happy hour still takes place Monday through Saturday from 4 to 6:30 p.m., and still features 50 percent off all wine, beer and sake.

Bistro Provence is reviving an old French tradition this year by selling King's Cake every day leading up to King's Day on Sunday, January 6. This French King's Cake is the predecessor to the Mardi Gras King's Cake that most Texans - and Louisianans, of course - are more familiar with. Rather than a gaudy, multi-colored confection with a baby Jesus baked inside, traditional French King's Cake is a crown-shaped puff pastry filled with a buttery, almond past filling.

The King's Cake tradition is centered on the Christian religion's feast of Epiphany, celebrating the 12th day after Christmas when the three kings found the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. The cake is made in the shape of the magi's head gear, and it became common to bake a coin or bean into the cake. The person who finds the surprise - symbolizing finding the Christ child - is supposed to experience good fortune.

For those wanting to enjoy this cake on the day it was originally created for, King's Day, Bistro Provence will be baking the classic French version the day before for pick-up. The cost is $28 plus tax. Orders must be made no later than Friday morning, January 4, but be warned: The cakes should never be eaten before King's Day or after Fat Tuesday, the beginning of lent.

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