Vegetables are often overlooked. You’re in a steakhouse (or a bistro) for a nice meal, and the meat is everything you wanted, but the spinach is mushy and bland and the potatoes overcooked. Asparagus comes out in a serving dish, stringy and a shade of green that is anything but natural. It’s an unpleasant — and wasteful — experience, or at least not all that it could be. The vegetables have been neglected.
If you feel as I do, you should book a table at La Table Houston and order the roasted beet salad, because the kitchen there does everything but neglect those beets. First, the dish is beautiful, and one can tell that the vegetables come from a quality producer. Second, they are roasted and prepared with skill and top-notch technique; they come to table firm and colorful, seasoned with care and taste. (Roasting beets, of course, transforms them from their raw state in a remarkable manner, resulting in a richness with which too many are unfamiliar. Try this sometime.)
It’s a course full of flavor and depth. Goat milk, yogurt and cheese provide creaminess, naturally, but more important is the acidity they give the plate; it’s what should mingle with these beets. A touch of citrus, some chive batons, olive oil and salt, and it’s done, and it’s in no way disrespectful to those beets. Alain Passard would love them, and you will, too.