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Found 5 results

  1. Great lunch today at Nam Eatery in the Heights. This is a clean (both in terms of sanitation and in decor), brightly lit joint with an unfortunate "umsa-umsa" dance music soundtrack playing. We had just finished a school tour with the 3-year old, and despite the hot & humid weather, he opted for the child's-sized pho with meatballs and a homemade passion fruit limeade. The pho was a great size (I would love to be able to order that size so I could sample other dishes), and comes out bare, ready to be dressed at the "pho vegetables" station up front (complete with hoisin and a few different chili and sauce options). I'd give the broth a 7/10. Light and clear, but with a reasonable depth of flavor. I look forward to comparing and contrasting with other places around town. The limeade was delicious, and I'll have to dig deeper into the long list of fruit teas and smoothies they offer. My banh mi with house paté and 2 over easy fried eggs was great, made even better with a schmear of smoky chili paste taken from the sauce selection. The baguette was appropriately light and crispy. I originally ordered the "combination," with steamed pork roll and cold cuts, but they no longer serve it because "no one ever ordered it." For shame, Houstonians. For shame. Cristina's "shaking tofu" vermicelli bowl was fantastic, with nicely fried cubes of tofu, sautéed onion and halved garlic cloves, along with the typical vegetable accompaniments. The fish sauce accompaniment was delicious, though a little less acidic than I'm used to. Not a complaint, just an observation. A shared shrimp "spring roll" was a fresh, herb-packed roll I've more often seen called a "summer roll," served with the standard peanut sauce for dipping. Nothing life-changing here, but a fine rendition. Given its proximity to our new house, Nam will assuredly be in the rotation, and I look forward to further exploring the menu. (Also, bring back the combination banh mi! I'll order it.)
  2. Normally, I wouldn't review a restaurant based solely on their brunch menu and I try not to try out new places with brunch being my first foray. It's a much maligned meal, often an afterthought by chefs. But, being that we are pretty new to Houston and have a long list of places to try, and this is a pretty new forum, here we are. It's New Years Day and people needed brunch (and brunch drinks) The deets: part of Delicious Concepts restaurants, opened in Summer 2016, executive chef Jordan Asher launched the restaurant and left in August, replaced by Albert Vasquez: Aug 1, 2016 - "Surprising Chef Swap: Jordan Asher is Out and Albert Vasquez is In at Ritual Restaurant in Houston" by Phaedra Cook on houstonpress.com The setting: industrial farmhouse vibe, wood tables, exposed brick, wood beamed ceiling, accentuated with lime green chairs (very comfortable). Waitstaff in jeans and striped suspenders. Sizeable bar looks like a welcoming place to spend happy hour or late evening hours and I think they had a pretty good NYE turnout last night judging by the beers that were not available today. Cool points for the cursive neon sign of Pixies lyrics "drive my car into the ocean" and as someone who left their heart in NYC, the huge, Grand Central Station-style arrivals board with beers on offer instead of trains pulling in, is a clever touch. The Meal: we started off with Sourdough hush puppies with jalapeño jelly. Light and airy, these bore more resemblance in consistency to fancy donut holes you find on dessert menus than a traditional hush puppy, (and that's not a criticism). Glazed with the jalapeño jelly that was more sweet than hot, these were delicious and a nice accompaniment to my Bloody Mary. We had read so much about the seafood gravy that we had to try. It came out in a large bowl and our attentive waiter quickly took it back to the kitchen and divided into small cups for us to share. Rich and creamy and dotted with pimentos, it is definitely not to be missed. It would be a great warming lunch on a cold day. Alas, the high today was 74. Entrees were The Standard for our 4yo (yard eggs, breakfast meat, hash brown, toast), chicken & waffles (cornbread waffle, cayenne pepper rub, seasoned maple, house pickle) for the husband (aka Josh, this forum's host), and Ritual Benedict (biscuit, city ham, 63° egg, green chile hollandaise, hash browns) for me. (I do love Anthony Bourdain but I also love Eggs Benedict against his advice) The 18m old, being an omnivore, got some of everything. The apps came out pretty quick, but the entrees lagged a bit long. Our waiter apologized and thankfully kept us updated. Side note-high chairs and kids cups at the ready, despite having no kids menu, we found it pretty kid friendly. Benedict was overall tasty. These next thoughts are very mild criticisms. The biscuit, while good was a bit much...biscuit. The bread component felt a touch out of proportion to other ingredients. Of course, I'm willing to take some of the blame here, having filled up with the hush puppies and the seafood gravy, I was slowing down halfway into the dish. The Green Chili Hollandaise was mild and not discernibly different from standard. Would like to see it punched up a touch. The egg was decently runny but my guess is it wasn't served right away. Thus is the danger of offering a 63 degree egg. Hash browns are served in a block- brown and crunchy on the outside. I'm more of a "scattered" kind of gal, but these were good and understandly more upscale in presentation. Smoky and salty, layered in pink porky ribbons, the star of the dish is the city ham, and rightfully so. Felix Florez of Black Hill Meats is a co-owner. Ritual is a temple to meat, lest you forget. And if you do, there is a huge glass-walled walk-in in the back of the restaurant displaying hanging sides of pork waiting their eventual plating. You won't be bringing your vegetarian friends here. Josh I imagine will weigh in on the chicken and waffles but the bite I had was delicious-a milder version of Nashville hot chicken on a crisp cornbread waffle-a tasty rendition of a southern classic. Brunch here is a worthwhile endeavor, not a chefs bastard child. A great neighborhood place to celebrate day one of 2017. We will be back.
  3. I can't believe I haven't started a thread for Pinkerton's yet. We've eaten here a half-dozen times by now, and find new things to love with each visit. Up until now, we haven't hit a major line situation, though with them making the latest Texas Monthly Top 50, that may change. Unlike most Central Texas BBQ places Pinkerton's not only serves beer (with $1 beer Thursdays), but has a full bar which stays open late even if they've sold out of meat. The brisket here is a solid rendition, and an order I never go without when we're here. I've never had a dry piece, though there was one time it was tender to the point of mushiness. Haven't had anything similar before or since, so it must have been an aberration. The pork ribs here are certainly tender, though they are a bit too sweet for my tastes. Others (in my own family) disagree. The beef rib I had on our last visit was massive and excellent. No reason it wouldn't hold its own with the big boys in Taylor, TX. Sides are standard, elevated by an extra mustardy potato salad and the ultra-rich duck and sausage jambalaya. The vibe here is friendly and low-key, with communal tables inside, and corn hole boards and picnic tables outside.
  4. As much as I try to be a booster for neighborhood places, I can't go all out for Skinny Rita's. I'll admit to being put off by the name, but they were named by Thrillest as one of Houston's "Most Underrated" Tex-Mex joints, and called a "Hidden Gem" by Eater. They also have a multi-level patio with a nice view of downtown, and happen to be pretty close to my house. The margaritas are set apart by having only 150 calories...I prefer more calories apparently. These were unbalanced - too sweet, with no tequila edge that my favorite versions have. Cristina's carnitas tacos came with limp store-bought corn tortillas filled with a fairly dry roast pork any one of us could make in our home oven from a NYTimes.com recipe. If that sounds harsh, it's meant to be. Carnitas are an actual thing, and I get annoyed when people call any pork-based taco "carnitas." My beef fajitas (half off on Wednesdays) were passable, but suffered from sitting for over 5 minutes until the accompanying (store-bought) flour tortillas arrived. ' Queso was par for the course for non-Texas versions but way behind the curve for Houston. A trio of salsas were actually great: a mild tomatillo, smoky chipotle, and moderately hot habanero. The green-colored chips are apparently made from cactus rather than corn, but come off as standard tortillas. The bottom line I took away from Skinny Rita's is that this might be a successful suburban chain in the Midwest, but for a Tex-Mex joint in Houston, it is far from a gem, and certainly not underrated. If I'm in the Heights looking for Tex-Mex, you'll find me sticking to Teotihuacan from now on. (BTW, there are a number of claims on the menu regarding "organic," "healthy," ingredients, etc. but importantly, I saw no mention of sourcing for said ingredients. Caveat emptor.)
  5. We coincidentally had reservations at Foreign Correspondents on the day Bon Appetit named it one of the 50 best new restaurants. This is one of a trio of restaurants opened in quick succession by the Treadsack group in the Heights (see also: excellent Gulf Coast seafood at Bernadine's, and very elevated English pub fare at Hunky Dory), and amazingly, all three impress. Foreign Correspondents is helmed by a northern-Thai chef and her (not Thai) husband. The menu is a few steps removed from the typical American Thai joint, and reminds me of the ambitious and unflinching menus at places in DC like Baan Thai and Thip Khao. No Pad Thai or Drunken Noodles to be found here (and that's a good thing). While they offer several set menus, which look to be a great way to ease into some of the lesser known dishes, we struck out on our own since a few of the things we knew we wanted weren't included. Crispy Fried Herbs were light and crunchy, with a great balance of acid and funk, and not a hint of sogginess. Fantastic start to the meal, and more reminiscent of the fried watercress salad at Sripriphai in Queens than the sweeter version at Thip Khao in DC. Stuffed sticky rice was a simple but satisfying dish of banana leaf-wrapped sticky rice with a simple squash filling (a salted fish version is also offered). Laaps are offered in 2 styles with a variety of proteins: Isaan, which seems like what most of us have come to understand as laap, and Lanna, which incorporates prik laap, a chile paste. We opted for the fried Texas shrimp laap, which comes in the Isaan style. This was an ok dish, but was a bit on the dry side. I'm not sure if that is intentional, or a misstep...I would like to head back to try a few other laaps to compare. Although this is described as spicy, the levels are kept in check, and shouldn't deter any but the most chili-phobic. I was practically coming out of my skin in anticipation of the crispy rice salad, a family favorite from our nearly weekly visits to Thip Khao when we lived in DC. This version was good, but leaned a bit too heavily on lime juice, which kind of overwhelmed the dish. I think a heavier hand with the herbs would balance this out a bit, as the greenery was all but nonexistent in our dish. I actually self-corrected for this by mixing my crispy rice with the crispy fried herbs, and stumbled upon a truly winning combo. There was a quick break in the action, as I was brought the balut I ordered for solo consumption, knowing no one else at the table would be interested. The intact egg is brought out piping hot in a small bowl with various leaves and stems alongside and a dish of what I think is jaew dipping sauce. After appropriate instruction from our waitress, I dug into an impossibly creamy, custardy egg...just insanely rich. The embryo itself was on the small side, and other than the initial shock of seeing a little eye looking my way from the egg, did not get in the way of enjoying the dish. And amazingly, there is more food to come... A whole fried fish was nicely prepared and topped with cashews, lime, chilies, and other aromatic things. Fantastic, and more than enough for 4. The makrut lime and fish curry was a crowd favorite, and reminded me of tom kha, with just a bit more funk and acid. I am unable to not order khao soi when I see it, and FC's version was rich, decadent, and did not disappoint. It is served with a side dish of shallots and lime, and while good on its own, the broth really comes alive with a few squeezes of lime. Finally (!), the eggplant and pork came in with thick, toothsome slices of heirloom eggplant bathed in a dark, intensely smoky sauce lightened with lemon basil. So good, and even better for breakfast the next day. The cocktail menu is creative, and drinks were well-made...You might consider a pre-dinner drink at the connected cocktail bar Canard next door, and go for a glass of Riesling (both off dry and dry selections available, and as the menu says "Not trying to tell you what to do, but Riesling is the best wine to drink with Thai food.") Services was friendly, efficient, and knowledgeable, and no one batted an eye at us with our 2 little dining companions. (Note: there is also a kids menu with options like thai fried chicken with rice, fried rice with fish, and versions of laap and green papaya salad without the chilies.) Congratulations to the team at Foreign Correspondents for their BA nod...well-deserved. We'll be back. (BTW, that link to the Instagram photo of the balut is my newish Houston account @houston_dining. Follow along there or on twitter if it strikes your fancy.)
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