A frequent entry on many a list of top Italian restaurants in Houston, Vincent's nevertheless has been recently called out in online forums and review sites for its supposedly declining service and food quality. So I was a little apprehensive when I chose it as the location of a recent celebration dinner and crossed my fingers it would live up to its reputation...or at least provide me with a decent meal, selfish diner that I am.
That night, I ordered the "Veal Vincent" ($19), touted as a specialty of the house (in addition to the rotisserie chicken). The meal is a combination of traditional and Americanized Italian cuisines. On the left side of the plate were strips of tender veal, pounded until thin, lightly breaded, and dressed in a pungent but pleasant lemon butter sauce; on the right, a scoop of rich fettuccine alfredo.
It was an odd pairing, but the rich cream of the fettuccine nicely mellowed the tart citrus flavors of the veal and the slight sourness of the artichokes. Alternating bites was definitely the best consumption strategy: too many fork-swirls of pasta tended to highlight its saltiness and, likewise, a disproportionate number of nibbles of veal revealed the meat itself to be a bit bland.
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While the Veal Vincent is not stellar in terms of individual components, the composition saved it from being unsatisfying. But this is an order probably not to be repeated, and, unfortunately, not the best proof that Vincent's is still in its heyday.