CUISINE: NORTHERN ITALIAN
at Hotel Granduca
1080 Uptown Park Blvd., Houston, TX 77056
713.418.1104 | www.granducahouston.com
A grueling two-mile commute from The Galleria, in north Uptown, you’ll find the Hotel Granduca Houston. Since 2006, the Granduca has been offering guests an authentic and refined Tuscan experience. For nearly 10 years, the hotel has also been home to one of the city’s most noteworthy epicurean secrets, Ristorante Cavour. Cavour is known among local fine diners as perhaps the best Italian kitchen in Houston.
With a dining room and waitstaff that embody the definition of luxury, Cavour feels like it would be more at home on 5th Avenue than in the Bayou City. The restaurant recently welcomed new Executive Chef Henry Hamor, who is busy introducing a new menu that is set to be released in November. Chef Henry plans to unveil seasonal menus every few months, and invited me to sample several items from the upcoming fall menu.
Personally, I don’t care much for gnocchi. Small balls of potato pasta don’t quite get my juices flowing like a pesto fettuccine or ragù tagliatelle can . But that all changed after tasting Cavour’s spinach gnocchi with curry sauce and lobster.
The fusion of subcontinental spices with Italian cooking is surprisingly well paired, and the spinach gnocchi is a fresh take on an overdone dish. If you’re not sold on the gnocchi, I recommend the scallops over yellow rice, or risotto with porcini mushrooms, asparagus and melted fontina cheese. As a finishing touch of decadence, I was served both the tiramisu and the panna cotta over strawberry sauce. Cavour hardly needs my recommendation to continue its long run of success, but I offer it nonetheless. I strongly recommend a trip to this little slice of Tuscany right here in the heart of Houston.
DEL FRISCO’S DOUBLE EAGLE STEAKHOUSE
at The Galleria
5061 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77056
713.355.2600 | www.delfriscos.com
There’s nothing in the world of food quite like the experience of dining at a world-class steakhouse. Del Frisco’s in The Galleria is world-class, in a class of its own. Houston’s most fashionable steakhouse is undergoing major upgrades this fall. The restaurant is welcoming back long-time General Manager Arthur Mooradian, and along with the new GM comes a completely updated decor and menu. Most notably, Del Frisco’s is now introducing a new dry aged program with prime cuts aged as much as 45 days.
My wife and I were lucky enough to be invited to sample the new menu recently. From the onset, I was floored by the new cocktail list, featuring a take on an Old Fashioned that combines bourbon with Earl Grey tea bitters and Earl Grey syrup. The new starters menu also includes some steakhouse classics that have been given new life, like the (extremely) thick-cut bacon. At least I’m told this was bacon, though I’ve never known bacon to stand two inches thick and taste like pork chops; but then again, I wasn’t complaining.
As far as red meat, it goes without saying that Del Frisco’s does it like no other. But it should be noted that nothing they’ve done to date holds a candle to the 45-day dry aged prime strip, and the 14-day dry aged Colorado prime lamb. 16 oz. and 22 oz. respectively, these plates make excellent sharing portions after a round of appetizers and sides. The strip (and the equally aged prime ribeye) is to steak what a 1961 Ferrari California Spyder is to cars. It’s perfect.
at Neiman Marcus
2600 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056
713.621.7100 ext: 2166 | www.neimanmarcus.com
What says Fashion Issue better than The Galleria? And what says The Galleria better than Neiman Marcus? The flagship store opened in 1969 as the central figure in Houston’s iconic shopping center. For nearly as long as Neiman Marcus has been the nucleus of Houston high fashion, Mariposa has been a staple in the world of Houston fine dining. Generations of Houston’s high society have become regulars at this exclusive uptown hideaway. Located on the top floor of the building, the dining room seats less than 100 guests. The menu, designed with fashion in mind, is curated to appeal to health-conscious diners with a taste for elegance.
Upon being seated, I was offered what was likely the most memorable aspect of my dining experience: a small cup of chicken broth. Made in-house and served as a pre-meal palette cleanser, the broth is a knockout punch. Served in a small tea cup (more suited for espresso than soup) it’s an appropriate introduction to the light yet thoughtfully designed menu at Mariposa. Chicken broth was followed by another house specialty, the monkey bread yeast rolls. Locally famous among Mariposa’s loyal customer base, the house rolls are buttery and flaky, served with homemade strawberry butter.
On to the menu. I began by tasting the Shrimp Louie Salad, a Mariposa best seller. This is a fresh lettuce salad topped with jumbo lump crab, jumbo shrimp, and avocado. Next up was the Roasted Salmon Salad, topped with quinoa, pistachios, roasted beets, and orange slices. Mariposa knows how to make healthy eating both satisfying and mouthwatering. My personal favorite is the Salmon Tacos with chipotle mayo, avocado and coleslaw. Served alongside a roasted tomato salsa, these overfilled tacos are worth the mess. I finished my meal off as anyone should at Neiman Marcus, with a box of their world-famous chocolate chip cookies. Curious fans are welcome to try their hand at baking them, as each box comes with a recipe card inside.