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Culture / Restaurants

Houston Restaurant Weeks Guide

Where to Eat This Week

BY // 08.07.15

Each year, Houston Restaurant Weeks grows in size. What began as a one-week fund-raiser with fewer than 20 participating restaurants has grown to a five-week affair and garnered the participation of more than 200 local restaurants. The constant additions can be overwhelming, so each week I will share a few of my favorites to help you navigate the HRW waters. Flip through the dishes above for some of the highlights and read below to get specifics on each restaurant’s menu. 

ARCODORO RISTORANTE ITALIANO 
The beauty of Houston Restaurant Weeks (other than helping contribute to a great cause) is that it often prompts people to visit restaurants they wouldn’t normally frequent. This was the case for me with Arcodoro, a traditional Sardinian restaurant nestled in a prime shopping center on Westheimer Road. Prior to this week’s visit, I knew very little about the Italian island of Sardinia, let alone what Sardinian cuisine encompassed. I went in expecting traditional Italian food, but as I sat down I was quickly informed that Sardinia is about as Italian as Hawaii is American. Sardinian cuisine has a myriad of influences that extend beyond Italy, something that is reflected in Arcodoro’s five Restaurant Weeks menus. Guests can choose from Terra (the meat menu, $45), Sardegna (the Sardinian tasting menu, $45), Mare (the seafood menu, $45) and Vegetariano (the vegetarian menu, $35). Each dinner menu is also available with a wine pairing. The fifth menu is the lunch menu ($20); comprised of three courses, it is a special addition for the restaurant because it usually does not serve lunch.

arcodoro
The Pannacotta alla Frutta serves as the dessert for Arcodoro’s vegetarian menu.

I tried the Sardegna menu, which consists of Bruschetta, Funghi & Pomodoro, Tonno e Bottarga (seared and marinated ahi tuna, red onions, rucola, celery, cannellini beans, bottarga shavings with a bottarga sauce) Gnocchetti Sardi al Cinghiale (Sardinian teardrop pasta with a ragu of wild boar and Cannonau wine), La Zeminata (medley of fresh seafood, scallops, shrimp, calamari and mussels in a saffron dill broth) and Seadas con Gelato (puff pastry filled with sweet cheese, lightly fried served with homemade ice cream). I also tried the Crostini Misto Mare, Cozze al Vermentino (Chattam Blue mussels sautéed in garlic, cherry tomatoes, white wine and herbs) and Polipo ai Ferri con Salsa di Peperoni (grilled Mediterranean octopus served with braised escarole, olives, anchovies, roasted bell peppers and oregano sauce) from the Mare menu.

While all of the dishes had nice flavor, the standout for me was the Tonno e Bartaga. Every salad should take lessons from this one. The seared tuna was spot on, and the cannellini beans were a great flavor addition. The star of the dish was the bottarga sauce. Bottarga is a salted, cured fish roe typically from gray mullet, tuna or swordfish. It lent a great salty flavor to the salad without overpowering the rest of the ingredients. In addition to the salad, I thoroughly enjoyed the Polipo ai Ferri con Salsa di Peperoni. If cooked incorrectly, octopus can get a bit rubbery, but, thankfully that was not the case with this dish. The octopus was, as the menu stated, “grilled to perfection” and exhibited great flavor. Arcordoro, 5000 Westheimer Road #120, Houston, TX 77056

See Arcodoro’s full Houston Restaurant Weeks menu here.

DEL FRISCO’S DOUBLE EAGLE STEAKHOUSE
Del Frisco’s
 is my dad’s favorite restaurant, which means I’ve been subjected to many meals at the luxe steakhouse. Of course, if you frequent Del Frisco’s, you know that being forced to eat their food is much more of a reward than a burden. Of all my visits, this year’s Restaurant Weeks menu is one of the best meals I’ve had there, and though Del Frisco’s has been the number-one contributor to the Houston Food Bank for the past four years, this was actually my first time trying its HRW menu (I usually like to visit restaurants I’ve never been to during Houston Restaurant Weeks). Del Frisco’s is offering a three-course lunch ($20) and dinner menu ($45); both come with a list of wines for pairing.

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The 8 oz filet at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

From start to finish, every item I tried on the dinner menu was sublime, but there were a few highlights that cannot be left unmentioned. The first was the roasted poblano soup that was served as the soup of the day (a first-course menu option). The taste of the soup was totally different from what I expected. It was both bright and smoky at the same time, with a rich flavor that I didn’t think could be achieved by a soup dominated by poblano pepper. I could have ordered a vat of it to-go and been content for the entire evening. Unfortunately, the soup is not a regular menu option, so it’s a definite must-try during Houston Restaurant Weeks. Next was the filet, which is to be expected from a steakhouse. Del Frisco’s is giving the option of a broiled 8-ounce filet or 3-ounce filet medallions, and they are both served with chateau potatoes and green beans. The meat was cooked perfectly and had a great sear on the outside. The sides also complemented the steak well. Lastly, there was the tempura-fried Canadian lobster, a meal I’ve been craving since it hit my taste buds. The dish — 10 ounces of lobster tail served with crab-fried rice, red pepper jelly and smoked poblano tartar sauce — can and should be added as a supplement to the Houston Restaurant Weeks menu for an additional $14, which is a steal. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, 5061 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77056

See Del Frisco’s full Houston Restaurant Weeks menu here.

TABLE ON POST OAK
I keep a running list of restaurants in the city that I want to try, and Table (formerly Phillipe Restaurant + Lounge) has been sitting on it for months. I just haven’t been able to make time to visit, but Houston Restaurant Weeks presented the perfect opportunity to finally give it a try. This year, Table is offering a brunch ($25), lunch ($20) and dinner ($35) menu, which is available for wine pairing.

My first stint at Table during Restaurant Weeks started with the dinner menu. Much like my Del Frisco’s experience, I enjoyed everything I tried (even the foie gras, which can sometimes be a bit too gamy for my taste). I literally didn’t have a bite that I did not enjoy. If I am forced to pick a standout, it would be the colossal lump crab salad, which is comprised of lump crab, black radish, avocado, cilantro, jalapeños and citrus dressing. I’m trying to master the recipe to make at home, but until then I’ll probably be at Table once a month for my salad fix. If I named all of the other standout menu items, I would basically be listing 80 percent of the dinner menu. You can click through all of the highlights in the slideshow above.

table-on-post-oak
The chocolate souffle is one of the desserts offered on Table’s HRW dinner menu.

I enjoyed the dinner menu so much that I returned on Saturday to try the special brunch menu. It also did not disappoint. I opted for the quiche Lorraine (applewood smoked bacon, leeks, Gruyère, baby greens) for my first course, the crab cake benedict for the second course and the Key lime tart for my dessert. Since I had such a hard time choosing between the lobster bisque (bisque, smoked mozzarella, sundried tomato oil espelette croutons) and the quiche Lorraine for my first course, I also ordered the lobster bisque as an à la carte item. I won’t continue to beat a dead horse by saying how amazing it was, but Table definitely has a new favorite customer. Table on Post Oak Restaurant, 1800 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056

See Table’s full Houston Restaurant Weeks menu here.

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