Editor's note: During the three-week extravaganza that Houston Restaurant Week has become, CultureMap's resident foodie — associate editor Sarah Rufca — is writing a diary of her culinary experiences around the city. This is her first entry.
I know the steakhouse is the last bastion of traditional masculinity (besides Wall Street, wrestling and Spike TV), but usually I interpret that to mean lots of red meat, lots of whiskey and a heavy dose of mahogany paneling.
I forgot that sometimes, like at III Forks in the Houston Pavilions downtown, it also means the staff double as eye candy. So after the gorgeous hostess seated us for lunch and we noticed that most of the front of house staff was female and rocking a uniform of black halter tops and short skirts, we couldn't help but feel uncomfortable on their behalf.
"Aren't you cold?" my friend inquired to our waitress, and she admitted she wished she could wear a sweater.
"That's awful," said another friend, in a tone that implied she meant "You should sue."
Ill Fork's Restaurant Week lunch menu is pretty straightforward: Start with a salad or lobster bisque for the first course and choose between a tenderloin, salmon filet and roast chicken for the second.
The salad, with bleu cheese, Texas pecans and a walnut molasses vinaigrette, was nothing short of excellent. The bisque was tasty, but the thin texture seemed out of place for such a creamy flavor.
When the second course arrived, it was a similar mixed bag. The only thing that truly stood out was the creamed corn side, and not in a good way. The kernels were crisp, but it only made the juxtaposition in the creamy muck more obvious. I'm not a creamed corn connoisseur (I'll leave that to people with extended hospital stays and to octogenarians) but there was nothing appealing about it.
As far as the proteins went, the favorite was the salmon, coated in a much more appealing cream sauce. The steaks were perfectly cooked, if a bit peppery, and the chicken, as expected, was the least exciting entree but by no means bad.
III Forks in the evening has many charms, when the bar is full, the lights are low, the sports on the televisions are live and the halters don't seem out of place. But our lunch, while still a great deal, lacked that certain amount of luster.