Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Houston Restaurant Weeks: RDG + Bar Annie

August is beastly hot in Houston. Fortunately, there's something in H'town that makes the sizzle month bearable: Houston Restaurant Weeks! Instead of just one week, we get to enjoy amazing restaurants throughout the whole month. This year, our strategy is to seek out the restaurants with outstanding lunch menus. By focusing on lunch instead of dinner, we get to enjoy more restaurants for the same budget, and often the portions are the same as they are at dinner. 

Best of all, this benefits the Houston Food Bank since a donation goes to them with every meal. Last year set a new record, with more than $1.2 million raised. Wowza. We Houstonians sure love our restaurants. 

We hit Eleven XI first, and I must say it was nothing short of outstanding. Every morsel of food was thoughtful, soulful and artful. I even went outside my usual parameters to enjoy a petite braised pork shank atop the best coleslaw I've ever had (it tasted almost like there were both fennel and mustard seeds mixed in). Greg mooned over his grilled oysters with heirloom tomatoes, pecan pesto, Parmesan and bacon. In total, we enjoyed three courses for a mere $20 each.  

This week, we enjoyed a very pleasant meal at RDG+Bar Annie. It's been ages since we've been there, partly since we have so many great restaurants closer to home and partly since there are just too many top-notch places to hit. We both started with the pea and mint soup finished with creme fraiche. The pea flavor was super-fresh, and the mint was obvious enough to really map to what you'd imagine as the classic British summer flavor. The watercress was a little unnecessary as the garnish, and the mouth feel was a tiny bit oily (maybe some ham protein in there? or maybe olive oil?). 

Greg opted for the hanger steak, a perfect medium-rare with an amazing demi-glace. I adored the striped bass with artichoke pesto, tomato butter sauce, shaved fennel and lemon. The fish was cooked perfectly, the fennel was wonderfully thin and the tomato butter sauce was frankly decadent. It almost tasted like the younger version of a remoulade. Who wouldn't love that? 

Greg finished with chocolate bread pudding (moist, pleasantly dense, not overly rich) and I enjoyed pecan pie topped with ice cream (balanced flavor with a nice sturdy crust). 


All I can say is that if you're going to be a foodie, this is one of the best places to do it!

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