Sunday, June 25, 2006

Restaurant Spree

You might be surprised to know that Houston has some great restaurants. From fine cuisine to taco stands. I'm not sure many Houstonians cook at home any more because they spend more per capita than any other American city. The Food and Wine writer, John Mariani, regularly visits Houston to check out and write about the restaurant scene.

While I can't write like Mr. Mariani, I have been checking out new restaurants this weekend.

El Patio Mexican Restaurant Midtown - This was a Friday night scene, a place to be for singles, mixing and mingling. It was a reminder of how FAR, far away we are from the single scene. Young men in sloppy casual, young women in strapless sun dresses or tank tops with flirty skirts and spikey heels. Are girls growing bigger breasts than my generation? Is it the result of the hormones that cows are fed? Or are the plastic surgeons enhancing their pocketbooks and these breasts. It was an amazing scene to watch as we sat with Pat and Susan on the patio sipping margaritas and rolling melted queso with chorizo into flour tacos. We followed the tacos with enchiladas. I'm kind of fussy about my Margaritas. These didn't earn but about a 2 or 3 on a scale of 10. The food was okay but in a city with lots of choices for Mexican food, it doesn't make the "rave list."

Bamboo House - I met Pam Richards and Carol Doak for lunch on Saturday at the Bamboo House on Waugh Drive. With all our talking it is hard to believe that we also paid attention to the food or the decor, but believe me I was taking it all in. The place is a very contemporary and elegant setting with just enough of an Asian touch. The menu seems to be a fusion of Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese. Beautifully presented on unique dishes. We shared dishes.....steamed pork dumplings, crispy crab dumplings and a great shrimp dish. All were perfectly prepared. The Bamboo House is highly recommended.

Annabelle's Diner - After meeting Guy and Debbie Leflar and checking out the floats for the Gay Pride Parade, we headed over to Taft for Annabelle's Diner. The diner doesn't have a license to sell wine or beer but they can uncork your wine. We took along a bottle of red and a bottle of white. The menu is eclectic, burgers, pizza, pasta and entrees like my chicken with portabello mushroom, spinach and topped with a melted cheese. All our dinners were served with a crispy mixed green salad. Our waiter was very personable and while we talked to him we found out that he was from San Miguel de Allende and what was even more remarkable he was from the Colonia where we live in San Miguel. His father is a iron worker and he gave us his address so when we get back we'll be sure to go see him and let him know that his son is doing fine. Annabelle's is a neighborhood place that will be on our "go to" list.

After dinner, Guy and Debbie came back to the condo with us to enjoy the view. I had been to Spec's Liquor store this week and bought a couple of tiny boxes of Brown Paper Chocolates. One box, Dark Chocolate with pistachios, cointreau, dried cherries and orange peel and another box, White Chocolate with pistachios, Starbucks coffee liqueur, caramel and citrus peel. While we looked out over the city, we munched on tiny slivers of chocolate and sipped a marvelous Zinfandel Port, from MonteVina vineyards in Amador County.

Laurier - Today I was invited to a birthday brunch with a group of women who regularly celebrate their birthdays together. Today was Vanita Smithey's Day. The brunch at Laurier was fabulous. Some had egg dishes but I went for a vegetable tart with eggplant and artichoke. Everyone was happy with their choices. The restaurant has an outdoor patio but in the heat and humidity we chose to stay inside with the contemporary/almost mid-century decor and bright primary colored walls. Energy colors but it was still a soothing atmosphere. We were served with attention but at just the right pace to enjoy the conversation and the opening of presents. I have read that their dinner menu is as interesting and as well executed as the brunch menu. Another keeper.

Carrabba's Italian Grill - Carrabba's isn't one of the new kids on the block. It has been around for a while but it is one of the places that can make the adults and kids happy. Mike and his family and Gary took us out to eat. The grandsons enjoyed the calamari and chicken fingers while the rest of us tried pizzas, or steaks or, for me, quail. The noise level is a little high but the service and the food makes it worthwhile.

This has definitely been a restaurant weekend and I've contributed to Houston's award winning per capita restaurant spending. Now it is time for some home cooking.

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