Thankfulness and November go together like a good pinot noir and a breezy fall afternoon. Giving lunchgoers much to be thankful for (including plenty of pinot noir bottles and a fantastic patio setting for those breezy fall afternoons) is The Tasting Room in Uptown Park, with its approachable lunch menu, prime location, easy parking and ample outdoor seating.
With many locally sourced, high-quality ingredients, the lunch options are not only fresh from the garden in most cases, but will keep you from spending the second half of your day in the office dozing off intermittently between emails. Lighter in fare, they're also lighter on the wallet, with lunch prices ranging between $8 and $16.
Right in the middle of that range — and proving that not all salads are created equal — is the Champagne Cobb ($14) with its crisp romaine hearts, a smattering of applewood-smoked bacon for a smoky crunch, avocado for added decadence, roasted beets for a hint of sweetness, grilled chicken and Dustin Farms 6-minute boiled eggs for the perfect texture, all tossed in a champagne-cilantro vinaigrette.
Slightly less over-the-top, but just as satisfying in its own right, is the house salad, which comes with mixed baby greens tossed in a balsamic dressing complemented by the tang and saltiness of feta cheese married with the contrasting flavors and textures of dried cranberries and candied pecans.
Pair that salad with half of an old-school club or a champagne-poached chicken salad sandwich, a fresh baked cookie and house-made potato chips and you've got one of The Tasting Room's most popular selections: The $10 TTR Lunch Special.
While the traditional triple-decker club sandwich may have originated in the 1800s, The Tasting Room's preparations are far from the days where it was acceptable to throw some cold cuts on three slices of toasted Wonder Bread, slather it with jarred mayonnaise and dress it up with fancy toothpicks. No, the Tasting Room's "Old School Club" towers high with roasted turkey, applewood-smoked bacon, hydroponically grown tender bibb lettuce, juicy tomatoes and a house-made tarragon-caper aioli, all served triple-decker style in between Houston-made Slow Dough whole wheat bread slices.
Also on Slow Dough whole wheat is the "New School Club," which substitutes wild grilled salmon for the slow-roasted turkey slices for only $2 more. Both leave all other club sandwiches in their wake, pitifully wilted with envy in comparison.
Part of their charm comes from the Slow Dough bread, which is used on all the artisan sandwiches on The Tasting Room's lunch menu, including the vegetable panini with fresh grilled vegetables held together with oozy, melted mozzarella between wonderfully chewy ciabatta.
They also source the thick bun for The Tasting Room burger, with a blend of Angus beef that includes short rib, brisket, chuck and beef belly served one of three ways — the signature features applewood-smoked bacon, arugula, avocado, cheddar and house-made aioli.
With five sandwiches served on Slow Dough bread, five salads and soups made daily from seasonal ingredients, The Tasting Room's lunch at Uptown Park is truly serving up its own version of Thanksgiving every day. Your lunch companions, your wallet and your palate will all be grateful you decided to pay a visit.