Hot fun in the summertime means plenty of special dining options — and from new menu items to unique, collaborative chef dinners, it's worth getting out in the heat for.
Chef Philippe Schmidt has some fantastic new menu offerings for Summer at Philippe on Post Oak. Grilled calamari stuffed with spring vegetables, served on a confit of tomato and olive nicoise is unique and simply delightful. The haricot vert salad with baby artichoke and foie gras shavings tossed with a pungent sherry vinaigrette is both hearty and light, while a peppery arugula salad with tangy goat cheese wrapped in crispy phyllo served on a carpaccio of pears, toasted hazelnuts and sherry vinaigrette would make for a deliciously light dinner on its own.
New entrees include the "Long Island Duo" of duck: Crispy duck breast with a Texas grapefruit sauce is served alongside duck leg confit bread pudding, yellow baby beets and red beet puree with ginger. The duck breast is served deliciously rare and the combination of flavors and textures is a winner.
Another notable newbie is the Black Sea Bass — slices of seared wild bass with crispy skin served with soft grits, little stacks of grilled corn and a Pernod demi-glace. There's also a fabulous $20 "Master Chef" three-course lunch special during the week.
Chef Kevin Naderi at Roost just launched his latest menu, which features a number of perfect-for-summer items including Gazpacho Shrimp — plump, perfectly cooked shrimp atop marinated vegetables and queso fresco. A great vegetarian option is the toothsome casarecci pasta (house made at Paulie's down the street), served with eggplant caponata and oven-roasted tomato sauce.
From new menu items to unique, collaborative chef dinners, it's worth getting out in the heat for.
I love a refreshing summer dessert and Roost offers two that I'm becoming fast-obsessed with: Cloud 10 Creamery watermelon and tomato sorbet, served with tart feta and balsamic syrup, and a Black Sesame "cheese cake" (the texture is more akin to panna cotta), served with a strawberry-celery compote and house granola. Yum.
Chef Philippe Verpiand at Étoile in Uptown Park is featuring several new entrées including a steak tartare with cornichons, capers an fresh herbs, served with toasted ciabatta and crispy frites, and a decadent chicken confit served with pommes de terre a la sarladaises (potatoes cooked in duck fat), mushrooms, caramelized onions and arugula.
A new dessert standout is the Raspberry-Pistachio Napoleon. With its luscious cream filling and crispy tuiles, along with house made pistachio ice cream, it's a refreshingly delectable summer treat.
Damian's Cucina Italiana on Smith Street is celebrating 30 years with all kinds of fun and scrumptious specials that will run throughout the year. That includes their awesome "Momma's" fried chicken, served alongside spaghetti and meatballs and green beans — for lunch only through July. Don't miss it.
Chef collaborations and series
I love that chef Ryan Hildebrand of Triniti hosts such great collaborative culinary events in the lovely restaurant. The Guest Chef series runs through the end of July with multiple courses and pairings featuring folks like Gabriel Medina of Soma and Richard Knight, formerly of Feast.
Landry's Signature Chef Series dinners are taking place on select Wednesday evenings through August, with Vic & Anthony's, Brenner's Steakhouse, Brenner's on the Bayou, Grotto, La Griglia, Oceanaire, Morton's The Steakhouse, McCormick and Schmick's and Willie G's Seafood and Steak House all part of the action.
Each event features a special, chef-driven, multi-course menu along with wine pairings. Guests are able to engage one-on-one with the chef and their teams. On Aug. 7, all nine Signature Group Chefs will be featured in a finale dinner featuring hand-crafted cocktails and live music at Vic & Anthony's.