Monday, September 15, 2014

Bazille


Gave the new cafe in Nordstrom, Bazille, a try today. I made an 11:30 reservation which was not really necessary, but by noon, almost all the tables were filled. We started off our meal with crab bisque and the bruschetta. 



The bisque was a bit fishy when it initially hit my palate, but balanced out nicely. The bruschetta was beautiful to look at, but challenging to eat. The bread was hard to deal with and was suffering from an identity crisis. Too soft for toast but too dry to be fresh bread. However, slicing it prior to serving would make all the difference in the world. I just didn't eat it. The burrata and pesto were flavored so well. I've had burrata that's very bland, but this was not. Very tasty. 



I had the chipotle lime shrimp salad. Get your dressing on the side. I don't think the salad even needed it and besides, it was a bit sweet to me. It was also heavy on cilantro which was fine with me, but I know how polarizing that little herb can be. The corn on the salad was fresh and I could tell it had just been removed from the cob. 




Good, fresh food and a nice addition to The Woodlands--especially in the Mall Ring where food is mediocre at best, but I'm already hungry again.


Here's a couple more random pics:


Pre-meal bread and olives:


Salmon Niçoise Salad:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Laurenzo's


I recently received an invitation to a media dinner at Laurenzo’s on Washington. I've always known it as Lauenzo's Prime Rib as depicted on the cover of the menu, but I believe they are rebranding and eliminating the "prime rib" from their name because the logo on the website is different. 

Before I attend an event like this, I enjoy learning the story of the restaurant and the people behind it. As consumers, I think it’s easy to forget about the hard work that goes into starting and maintaining a business.  Although I was familiar with the Laurenzo family and their connection to Houston, I did learn a little more. I also stumbled upon this Houston Press article from February that gives a great history of many of the influential restaurateurs in the Bayou City. Give it a read. It’s long, but very interesting (http://www.houstonpress.com/2014-02-27/restaurants/houston-food-families/full/ ).

Laurenzo’s is known for its prime rib which if I were to find myself there again, I would order. It looked wonderfully juicy and made my mouth water. 

I was also enticed by the meats on the grill as I walked in the door.

 

Not only can you see the prime rib, but you can also check out the other action in the kitchen as you wait to be seated. 

 

However, that evening we weren’t there for the prime rib, but to sample some of the new menu offerings.  First off, we were served with beef Carpaccio. Now, keep in mind, I’m a country girl who is just venturing into the raw world, so I thought it was very good, but I have no basis of comparison.

 

Next up were the prawns. Oh, the prawns. I could taste the Old Bay, and these babies were just beautiful. They had excellent flavor and a nice, firm texture.

I can’t say the grilled artichokes were my favorite. They had a nice smoky flavor, but eating them was a bit awkward. Perhaps it was because I was with many people whom I’ve never met before, and I found it difficult to be classy and scrape the meat of the artichoke off with my teeth at the same time.

 

All in all, the apps were great low-carb choices.

As for the main dishes, we were served double-cut lamb chops, veal parmesan, and a veggie burger. I’m usually willing to take one for the team but I couldn’t bring myself to try the lamb chop. I just can’t do it. Lamb is something I will try once every six months or so, and I just tried it recently at Red Brick Tavern and still didn’t like it. Judging by appearance, it sure looked good. It’s served with mint jelly as well.

 

My favorite of the main courses was the veggie burger, oddly enough. I think this is a great option if you dine here with a vegetarian. This is a very meat-centric place, but I thought the burger was executed well. The presentation wasn’t all that great, but the taste was excellent. It had hints of barbecue, and kind of reminded me of a “sloppy joe.” I would order it again if I weren’t a lover of prime rib and other proteins.

The veal parmesan was also very good. I could have used a little more sauce, but the overall flavor was nicely balanced. I’m also not a lover of veal, but honestly, I couldn’t tell this was veal. That would be a good thing. The pasta was flavored nicely, not very heavy, and I appreciate it wasn’t a huge serving sitting there just to fill the plate.

They served the appetizers and main courses with their house wines, and personally, I would upgrade my selection and pair my meal with an appropriate wine.  They serve great food, and it should be paired with a great wine. Trust me. Skip the house wines. 

I’ve been having some major sweet cravings lately, so I was pretty pumped about the dessert course which consisted of strawberry pie and pumpkin bread pudding. I got pretty burned out on strawberry pie as a teenager working at Shoney’s (geez that pie was gross), so I’ve stayed away from that dessert. This sample renewed my love for strawberry pie.  The crust was so light, flaky, and appeared to be scratch-made. It wasn’t overly sweet either. I really enjoyed it.

The pumpkin bread pudding was also another winner. It tasted like a traditional bread pudding with a hint of “fall” spices.  It would be a great way to end your meal.

Also, as I was dining, I took note of the immense amount of sports memorabilia on the walls. I learned it’s all for sale, and if purchased, the proceeds are donated charity. This struck me as a very nice gesture and a unique way to give back to the community. 

I’m excited to return to Laurenzo’s soon to try the prime rib and get another slice of the strawberry pie!

For more information on Laurenzo’s, including their hours, visit http://www.laurenzos.net/


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sal y Pimienta


I had to make the hike down to the big city today to tape a segment with 93.7 deejay, DeviDev. Since I was down there, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit one of my H-Town bucket list restaurants specializing in South American Cuisine, Sal y Pimienta. 

Located in Town and Country, the parking is a complete nightmare. It quickly became clear they are serious about towing and booting if you dare park in a lot or garage to a place you're not patronizing. After circling the parking garage for 20 minutes, I almost gave up and took my business elsewhere. While the horrid parking situation is not the tenants' fault, I can't help but wonder how many people avoid the area because of it. As I made my last pass, the parking gods graced me with a spot. Success. I did not realize it at the time, but valet is available right across from Sal y Pimienta, and I'd highly encourage you to take advantage of it. 

Sal has a modern feel and you can see into the open kitchen that runs along one wall the length of the dining room. 

I received 3 menus--Executive Lunch, build your own salad, and their regular menu. I had heard about both the Executive Lunch menu (3 courses for $21) as well as the build your own salad option, so on my looooong commute, I had plenty of time to decide. 

I was brought some bread and chips along with some Chimichurri sauce to snack on while I perused the menu. 



I decided on the $21 Pre Fixe Executive Lunch menu starting with a salad with creamy cilantro dressing. The dressing definitely had a strong cilantro flavor and a low level of heat. The greens were fresh, and the tomatoes sure were pretty. They were even peeled. I hate raw tomatoes, so I have no idea if they were any good. :)


I'm still on a diet, so I had to go with the Pollo a la Parrilla. Basically grilled chicken with sautéed veggies. Somehow calling it something different made it taste better. Even though it was a chicken breast, it was surprising moist and I was impressed with the generous portion. 


Being the good girl I am, I ordered the fruit salad for dessert, but I really wanted the Quattro Leches Cake! 


Overall, I was impressed with the number of healthy choices available at Sal y Pimienta. I'm so completely bored with my diet, but Sal y Pimienta was a nice change of pace from my regular diet-friendly spots up Nawth. I enjoyed the open concept, the friendly service, and the excellent food--if only the parking were better. 

Here's the scoop on Sal y Pimienta:
Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 9am-12am; Thursday-Friday: 9am-2am
Saturday: 10am to 2am
Sunday: 11am-12am
Social Hour: Monday-Friday:3pm-7:30pm
For more information about Sal y Pimienta South American Kitchen please visit www.SalyPimientaKitchen.com or call 281-907-0412.