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Houston: Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (Mar. 2013)

March 22, 2013 3 comments

Author: Victor
Restaurant: Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
Owners: Chris and Harris Pappas
Exec Chef: Michael Velardi
Website: http://pappasbros.com/location/

Date: March 21, 2013

Notes:

I wanted to get steak at least once for my short stay in Houston, and my friend suggested Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. It IS a chain restaurant (with another branch in Dallas), but my friend said that they had excellent steaks, so we tried it anyway.

The steaks were really well-cooked, and the meat was tender and flavorful. The appetizers and dessert were what stood out to me, though. They were much more creative than I expected and every bit as delicious as I was hoping they would be!

Click here to see pictures of the meal!

New Orleans: Emeril’s (Mar. 2013)

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Author: Victor and Monte
Restaurant: Emeril’s New Orleans
Owner: Emeril Lagasse
Chef de Cuisine: David Slater
Website: http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com/emerils-new-orleans

Date: March 18, 2013

Monte’s Notes:

I love Emeril Lagasse. When I was 14, I’d flip on the Food Network to watch this jolly chef on television teach people how to cook and demonstrate how fun food can be. He was the first celebrity chef to introduce me to cooking. I’m glad we were able to stop by this restaurant and try the fantastic food.

To note, Emeril has done a lot of great work for the city of New Orleans, especially after Katrina. I remember watching No Reservations and Emeril’s appearance on it included a quote ” It’s easy to leave. It’s not so easy to stay and rebuild it. That’s what we’re doing.” This restaurant was one of the first to open after the hurricane and Emeril helped fundraise a lot of money to rebuild the city. The chef recently won the James Beard award for Humanitarian of the Year for his foundation that helps struggling youths find career opportunities in the culinary industry. More about it can be read here.

Victor’s Notes:

Monte and I planned on eating a lot today, so we came prepared to order quite a few appetizers and entrées. I ordered everything listed below and got “both salmons”, which the waitress thought meant two barbecue-glazed salmon dishes. (I meant that I wanted one order of the barbecue-glazed salmon and one order of the salmon pastrami.) Anyway, the waitress kept on telling us that it would be a lot of food and that we wouldn’t be able to finish it. Naturally, I took this as a challenge and ordered everything anyway, deciding that we would also eventually order dessert as a matter of principle hahaha.

When the entrées came, we had two barbecue-glazed salmon courses instead of one barbecue-glazed salmon and one salmon pastrami. I started to tell the waitress about the misunderstanding, and her initial response was to smirk and say, “You guys wanted all this, right?” She totally wanted to prove us wrong.

Of course we wanted a lot of food! We explained the misunderstanding, however, and she promptly replaced one of the barbecue-glazed salmon dishes with a salmon pastrami one. Of course, we finished everything…. very quickly. The food was just so dang good! After finishing all the entrées, we made sure to make a point out of ordering dessert hahaha. Quite a few staff members came around and told us that they were impressed with how much we could eat.

It makes me wonder, though. We really didn’t eat THAT much food. I guess people in New Orleans just don’t eat as much? I don’t think people in NYC would have batted an eye at the amount we ordered… Hmm.

This was a GREAT lunch to start the day. It was one of my favorite meals in March. The food was great, the service was good, and we left our mark. SUCCESS!

1 Inside

We sat near an open view of the kitchen, which was surprisingly calm and quiet.

Click here to see pictures of the EXCELLENT meal!

Houston Sushi: Uchi (Mar. 2013)

March 21, 2013 1 comment

Author: Victor
Restaurant: Uchi
Exec Chef: Tyson Cole
Chef de Cuisine: Kaz Edwards
Website: http://uchirestaurants.com/houston/index.php

Date: March 20, 2013

Notes:

I have wanted to try Uchi for a few months now, especially after hearing my friends from Texas rave about it. Anyway, I decided to visit a friend in Houston because I was in the area (New Orleans! Whoo!), and I decided that I should finally try the restaurant!

The restaurant’s a LOT bigger than I thought it would be. The restaurant would NOT be able to be as big as it was in NYC haha. Oh, Texas… Anyway, the restaurant has five separate dining areas. The wine bar seating has no reservations, and you can sit there and eat or drink if you can manage to snag a seat. The cocktail tables outside serve cocktails and little snacks, such as edamame. The tables and sushi bar usually have reservations, but you can still get seated if you wait (usually at least an hour); Uchi only allows reservations for a relatively small portion of the tables/seats. You can’t reserve directly for the sushi bar, though; it’s on a first-come, first-serve basis. Lastly, the private dining room is generally for dinner parties or business dinners.

We arrived about an hour early, so we just started chatting a bit near the wine bar. We eventually snagged seats at the wine bar and ordered a few appetizers before we started our main meal (comprised of mainly nigiri) at the sushi bar.

11B View

The food’s fantastic and really, really creative. I personally think some of the places in NYC are better in terms of traditional nigiri, especially when you consider only the rice and the fish. I’ve had places in NYC with better fish, rice, or both, but what this place does well (and it does it REALLY well) is execution of more modern and innovative flavor combinations. You have to check out the menu to see what I mean! (You can check out the menu here.)

I really wish I could eat everything on the menu. Everything just looks… delicious, fascinating, innovative, creative, and at times even genius, crazy, or both. Chef Cole is onto something here. I really wish NYC had a restaurant like this.

Nigiri analysis:

The rice was about room temperature and could arguably be a little warmer. Also, it wasn’t too fluffy; it could definitely be a little softer and fluffier.

The fish was really fresh overall, but I think the rarer pieces (like the threadfin snapper or the albacore) were better than the more common pieces (like akami or sake). I thought this was a shame; really good akami is something that can make me a really happy eater—the akami here was merely good :(.

Regarding the nigiri, the fish didn’t always melt in my mouth, and it could be pretty inconsistent. At times, the sushi piece was amazing, and the fish tasted really, really fresh; at other times, the nigiri merely tasted pretty good.

I’m a little sad that Uchi doesn’t serve chūtoro, ōtoro, or tamago. I’m curious as to what Chef Cole would do with those ingredients.

Click here to see pictures of all the food; there’s a LOT!