Last minute Houston Restaurant Weeks additions: New top restaurants join in, including a hot steakhouse
When the menus for Houston Restaurant Weeks were first revealed, it included a disclaimer that the list of restaurants hadn't been finalized. That's because organizer Cleverley Stone generously allows restaurants to decide to participate up until the last minute, even though that means the HRW website might not be finalized when the event kicks off Aug. 1.
After all, more restaurants joining the cause means more money for the Houston Food Bank.
It also means more choices for diners. For those who haven't checked the website recently, here are some of the latest additions to make deciding where to eat that much more difficult.
As always, diners should try to have a little patience with servers and cooks who are seeing larger than usual crowds. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends. Don't ruin the good karma of raising money for charity by being a jerk.
The downtown ramen shop may not be to Houston what Tatsu-ya is to Austin, but there's no denying its food has gotten consistently better since its March opening. Goro & Gun's $35, four-course, Houston Restaurant Weeks menu offers up a collection of some of the new offerings that have been responsible for the turnaround.
To start, there are three salads including cucumbers in a creamy miso dressing. The best of the second course options is the tempura fried Japanese hot pockets. Choose one of three different bowls of ramen as a main course and finish dessert with either yuzu pudding, mascarpone cheesecake or Eatsie Boys ice cream.
When Monica Pope operated t'afia, she always closed it during August for a vacation. Its transformation into Sparrow means this year is the first time she's been eligible to participate in Houston Restaurant Weeks. Sparrow's three-course, $45 menu features some of the restaurant's best dishes.
Starters include shiitake mushroom dumplings and Pope's signature bacon-wrapped dates. As expected, entrees all feature local ingredients in the form of a 44 Farms rib eye, a Black Hills Ranch lamb shoulder chop and a gulf catch of the day.
Sour cherry bread pudding looks like the best of the three dessert options, but Sparrow's options are all usually solid.
This pick checks two boxes: A spot outside the Beltway (Sugar Land Town Square) and a French restaurant. Aura's three-course, $35 menu offers solid French classics at a discounted price, which is part of the fun of Houston Restaurant Weeks dining, right?
Options include foie gras creme brulee as a starter and classic duck confit as a main. White chocolate bread pudding has become a little cliche, but if Aura's version is well executed it'll serve as a reminder of why people liked it in the first place.
Of course this summer's most talked about opening is joining in with August's most talked about fundraising effort. Thankfully, the steakhouse decided to offer a $35 menu when most of its competitors are at the higher, $45 level.
It's a pretty solid group of offerings too with starter options that include steakhouse classics lobster bisque and crab cakes. An eight-ounce filet is the only steak option among the entrees, but the basil crusted salmon is $30 by itself on the regular menu, so that's a pretty solid value.
For chocolate lovers, the black magic cake is a must-try — its light texture belies its intense chocolate flavor.
Houston hotel restaurants can be pretty hit or miss, but Sorella's $45 menu merits inclusion for one reason: Chicken. Fried. Quail.
Too many Houston Restaurant Weeks menus play it safe when it comes to main courses, but chicken fried quail is exactly the sort of twist on a classic that deserves encouragement.
As to the rest of the menu, the fig-topped petit flat bread starter and coconut tres leches look to be the best options for a starter and dessert. Those heretics not into quail should probably consider the pan seared snapper and its intriguing sounding accompaniments of verbena crustacean essence, field peas, fennel salad and crushed fingerlings.