Food for Thought
The best small plates in Houston: Restaurants that make tiny food dazzle in abig food world
Here’s a food trend for 2013 that I can really endorse.
Small plates, tiny foods.
In Texas, the land of the 24-ounce rib eye, two-handed burgers, chicken fried steaks that slop over the edge of a dinner plate and the all-you-can-possibly-eat Sunday brunch buffets, some people just don’t have that big of an appetite.
And I’m one of them.
When I was young and poor, I would dine out often, but only order an appetizer and a cocktail. It was cheaper and frankly just about all I need to eat. Now that I’m older (and just as poor) I still can make an entire meal from an app or a small plate or the cool new bar bites so many restaurants are offering.
OK, so I like tiny food, I cannot lie. Maybe it has to do with the Easy Bake Oven I had as a kid and those little cakes I baked but didn’t eat.
And a lot of other folks should be doing that, too. Ahem, I will not mention the whole obesity crisis in this country, but let’s just say your New Year’s resolution is to shed a few pounds.
OK, than eat less. It’s that simple.
Last year author Erin Hicks published Houston Small Plates & Sips, a guide to the top 100 small plates and cocktails from the best of the city’s chefs and sommeliers. It’s a guide to where to eat well and eat reasonably, as well as giving the recipes so you can recreate these small plates at home. Yea Erin.
Here are few new items around town not included in the book.
The starter plate of spicy crab claws at Nosh Bistro, paired with one of the wonderful champagne cocktails, makes for a fine lunch or light meal. The claws are seasoned with cumin and other Asian spices, and are a yummy plate.
If you eat them all, you probably don’t need an entree.
And over at Giacomo’s cibo e vino, you can always nosh on small plates that fill you up, like the rich and delicious goat cheese and sauteed onion tart currently on the blackboard menu. It’s only $10 and has the most creamy, savory taste. Pair it with one of the many wines by the quartino (about two and half glasses) and you’re good to go.
They come three to a litter and I can only finish two along with the blue cheese waffle fries. And the teeny dogs look so cute on a plate!
Franks Chop House has a new name, it’s now called Frank’s Americana Revival, but it’s the same cool vibe and great food although the menu has been updated. And, yes, this is the same place where I once had a fried chicken lunch served to me on two, count ‘em, two plates.
And yes, again, there used to be a Frank’s Big Frank — a 12-inch, all-beef, steamed wiener on a specially made bun with caramelized onions and chipotle-ancho-sirloin chili — on the menu. But that’s gone now, replaced by an off-the-menu (for now) bar bite that I love.
Order the Baby Franks, three mini Black Angus hotdogs on special tiny challah buns served with green tomato relish, or New York style with onion sauce or ballpark style with mustard, pickle relish and onions.
These dogs can hunt; I mean they are some tasty pups. They come three to a litter and I can only finish two along with the blue cheese waffle fries. And the teeny dogs look so cute on a plate!
But here’s some tiny food that’s even cuter. And smaller.
I’m not much of a sweet eater, so I was delighted at the size of the petit fours that came with the coffee at Tony’s recently. It was a small plate with even smaller desserts. Two tiny macaroons, matched petit fours and two itsy bitsy chocolate eclairs that looked like they came from a Barbie doll coffee shop set. About the length of the tip of your pinky, they are scrumptious and just the right bite of sweetness for people like me.
Oh, and during the holidays they were also serving tiny little gingerbread men. How they even get the icing on them I can’t imagine, but it must require a magnifying glass and a miniature piping bag.
OK, so I like tiny food, I cannot lie. Maybe it has to do with the Easy Bake Oven I had as a kid and those little cakes I baked but didn’t eat. Again, never really been much of a sweet eater.
Or, it may just be that nobody really needs to eat an entire cow at one sitting. Really, have you seen Super Size Me?