Food for Thought
Thanks, Houston, for a decade of memorable meals
How on earth have 10 years of eating gone by so quickly?
Sadly, I can’t remember a single meal from 2000. I was just so glad my computer was still working and Y2K had turned out to be a myth. E-mail was alive and well, although Facebook and Twitter weren’t even a gleam in restaurant PR folks’ eyes yet. Houstonians were still loving Tex-Mex—I ate out at the original Berryhill a lot—steakhouses and Italian. The first really memorable meal I can recall of the decade was at the second incarnation of Anthony’s on Kirby Drive.
And it wasn’t the now-bulldozed restaurant's food that made it so memorable, but the simple fact that eating out at a restaurant seemed almost normal.
It was Sept. 12, 2001 and the world was in shock, but somehow sitting in Anthony’s and eating those housemade potato chips smothered in Parmesan cheese made me realize life would go on. That’s the beauty of a familiar restaurant: The special sense of continuity that your favorite foods offer. The medium-rare filet mignon and white Burgundy were wonderful, but the emotional fare was even more filling.
Anthony's is long gone, and so is the Tony's on Post Oak, but I can still remember dining there in 2002, dragging myself to that haven of red velvet wallpaper just days after major surgery because it was Alba truffle season. And it was worth it; I can still taste the meaty white truffle risotto, even smell that wonderful scent. Truffle season at Tony’s is one of the highlights of any foodie’s year.
Then there was the first time I tried Feast. After all the media hype I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to its rep, but I was wrong. Not only was the décor of the old Montrose house less stuffy than I expected, but when the waiter brought a platter with a slow-braised lamb’s neck the size of my Chihuahua on it I practically swooned. To this day it’s still the best lamb I’ve ever eaten. And the whiskey prunes were sumptuous, too.
I’ve had a lot of great meals at Hugo’s, but one that really stands out actually started at Molina’s Cantina on Washington Avenue while I was interviewing the Molina brothers. Details are a little hazy now as I believe there were a few margaritas involved, but somehow we all wound up at Hugo’s eating chapulines. Chef Hugo fried the little grasshoppers up and served them with guacamole on blue tortillas. They were tiny tacos of salty, crispy delight.
So many meals over the past 10 years come to mind, from a girls luncheon of Salade de crabe et avocat, vinaigrette a’ l’orange at La Colombe d’Or with a bottle of bubbly to a bowl of Frito chili pie at Avalon Diner paired with their fresh limeade. (Editors Note: Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour and her main squeeze Shelby Bryan were spotted at Avalon having a late lunch on New Year's Eve.)
One of the best things about our city is the diversity of restaurants we have to choose from. From Tony’s to taco stands, we can eat our way through good times and bad, sampling culture, cuisine and camaraderie. So Happy New Year to you, and let’s all raise a glass to 2010 and all the great meals yet to come.