Monday, November 16, 2015


3320 White Oak Dr.
Houston, TX 77077

I was looking for some good Italian food in Houston, but The Annoyer said it doesn't really exist.  Coltivare is new on the dining scene so it was new for him too.  Coltivare reminded me of a Portland restaurant.  It's small.  It had an old, yet contemporary feel to it.  There was a lot of distressed wood.  The kitchen was open.  The menu felt very seasonal and local.  I almost forgot I was in Houston.  

Cauliflower pinenuts, raisins
If you're going to fry a vegetable, your best bet is to fry cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.  Frying brings a a golden caramelization while keeping the vegetable firm and crispy.  There's nothing worse than mushy vegetables.  The raisins added some sweetness while the pinenuts added crunch.  It was a good starter.
Lacinata Kale pickled butternut squash, smoked gouda, pecans, local pears
I was expecting more kale than squash, but was pleased by the interesting preparation of squash.  I've never had pickled squash.  It was crunchy, and a little bit sweet and sour.  The cheese, pecans, and pears really rounded out the picklyness which got a bit tiresome after awhile.  More kale probably would have offset the picklyness too.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015


1302 Nance St.
Houston, TX 77002

I think Houston sort of tries to elevate its own dining scene.  There's obviously no shortage of money here, but I guess sophisticated food doesn't always follow the money.  Oxheart is Houston's attempt at something a little more special.  It's supposed to be one of Houston's best new restaurants.  I was excited to try out their tasting menu.

Clarified Watermelon Juice dried jujube, muscadine grapes, asian pear, lime leaf
I thought it would have been prettier to have the watermelon juice in a white bowl to appreciate the pretty color, but maybe it would have been too ugly against the green grapes.  Everything about this dish was as advertised.  The juice was sweet.  The grapes were tart.  The Asian pears were crunchy.  The globules of kaffir lime oil were the only unexpected and interesting aspect to this dish.  Other than that, I could have made it at home.  Still it was refreshing and light.

Mung Bean Crepe braised mustard greens, potato skins, miso, pickled long beans and fenugreek
The crepe was delicate and crispy.  It reminded me of the pancakes you get at Korean restaurants.  The filling of braised mustard greens was savory and not too bitter.  The side of pickled long beans and fenugreek added some tart crunch.  Overall, a nice dish but not something worthy of its place in a $75 tasting menu.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Odd Duck

Odd Duck
1201 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704

For our last meal in Austin, we wanted to brunch it up at Barley Swine's sister restaurant.  My bad for actually missing brunch time, so we settled for lunch.  Mama H.o.P., Smooth Obturator, and The Annoyer made for a perfect party of 4.  I prefer to dine in groups of 4-6 because you can try more things that way and variety is my favorite aspect in dining.

Parker House Roll pig face, mustard
This was a VERY strong start.  In fact, this might have been my favorite dish of the meal.  They REALLY make excellent bread here.  It was so soft and fresh, very reminiscent of the pig bun from the previous night.

The filling was a very delectable porky goodness.  The fattiness was tempered by the perfect pairing with mustard.  Yums for sure!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Barley Swine

Barley Swine
2024 S. Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

With the little time we had in Austin, it was of utmost importance to be wise about our food choices.  Smooth Obturator left it to me to decide between Qui and Barley Swine.  Ultimately, Barley Swine won out though it was tough to pass up a Top Chef winner's restaurant.  The food at Barley Swine seemed looked to be the sophisticated/white linen type though the ambiance was Texas saloon with 80s music.  Our server was wearing manpris and loafers with no socks.

Crab cantaloupe, trinidad pepper sorbet 
We started off with this refreshing and light course.  The oceanic sweetness of the crab paired nicely with the sweet melon.

Butternut Squash Soup pecan miso, pancetta
The soup was silky and luscious.  It was sweet and complemented by a caramelized onion marmalade.  The pecan miso was nutty and unique.  The pancetta brought the needed saltiness.  The shredded orange thing was some crunchy butternut squash for added texture.  Well done!

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