I recently wrote about the art of the power lunch. For a small business owner like me, a more economical approach is often a better choice. Fortunately, many local restaurants agree and have put together prix fixe menus that provide a great meal at a very reasonable price. While the choices are limited, the quality and quantity of the food is not. Radio Milano, Le Mistral and Peska have three of the best business lunch menus.
CUISINE: Modern Italian Cuisine
800 Sorella Court | 713.827.3545 | www.radio-milano.com
Lunch, Mon–Sat: 11am–4pm; Dinner, Mon–Wed: 5–9pm; Thu–Sat: 5–10pm; Sunday Brunch: 10am–3pm
Radio Milano, the modern Italian restaurant run by Chef Juan Hernandez, of- fers a three-course lunch for $20. The starters are the soup of the day, an arugula/strawberry salad or mixed greens. I went with the soup, a roasted cauliflower in a creamy base. The flavors were well-balanced and bright. The entrées all sounded good: a lemon sole pan-seared over a lemon brown butter, a pork steak with tomato chutney and duck confit. While tempted by the fish, the duck confit served was too much to pass on. With a perfectly crispy skin and meat that fell off the bone, I was more than satisfied. During lunch someone asked me when I was coming back to the office: I said never, as the confit was perfect for a last meal. As a finale, I had to choose between bread pudding and a pistachio crème brûlée. I went with the crème brûlée. Served on a choc- olate graham cracker instead of in the usual ramekin allowed for a presentation that was almost as good as the dessert itself.
Overall, the choices, the quality of the food and the attentive service make Radio Milano a perfect choice for the executive lunch.
CUISINE: Seafood 1700 Post Oak Blvd. | 713.961.9229 | www.peska.us
Sun–Mon: 11am–9pm; Tue–Thu: 11am–10pm; Fri–Sat: 11am–11pm
Peska Seafood Culture serves some of the best seafood you’ll find in Houston. What most don’t know is that Peska also has one of the best Business Lunch specials featuring its seafood. For $25, you can pair any appetizer, salad or soup with an entrée or sandwich/burger. What takes Peska over the top is the number of choices available. If you wanted to eat a differ- ent combination every day, you’d have to visit Peska 99 times. (I went to Rice. Of course, I did the math.) For dessert, a paleta (frozen fruit-flavored lollipop) is a nice light ending.
For starters, the ceviches were excellent. Served on corn tosta- das, the Ceviche Trainera (Mahi mahi, olives, tomato and red onion) and Caramelo (yellowfin, citrus soy and caramelized onions) were superb. The Trainera is a more traditional ap- proach. The Caramelo was a pleasant surprise – sweet, yet not overly so from the onions and citrus.
With the entrées, the daily catch was a winner — pan-seared salmon on a bed of handmade pasta with a cream sauce. Very light and filling. The Land and Sea ta- cos were a good pair (grilled skirt steak and shrimp with caramelized onions and avocado cream). The marinated steak was tender, the shrimp perfectly grilled. Beyond the paired menu, some of the favorites from Raw Bar and Dinner menu are available. My favorite was the Maida crudo, NZ sea bass with garlic, lime and soy caviar. The roe provided the perfect saltiness to the lime marinated fish. Heaven from Down Under.
Based solely on the number of options, Peska’s business lunch is a steal at $25. Given the quality of the food, I will be back. After all, I have 98 more combinations to go.
1400 Eldridge Parkway | 832.379.8322 | www.lemistralhouston.com
Mon–Thu: Lunch, 11am–2pm; Dinner, 5:30–10pm; Fri: Lunch, 11am–2pm; Dinner, 5:30–11pm; Sat: Dinner, 5:30–11pm
Le Mistral, owned by Chef David Denis, was a pioneer of fine dining on the west side of town. I know too many people unwilling to leave the inner loop, and they are certainly missing out. Chef Denis’ French restaurant would be a hit wherever it was. In the Energy Corridor, it is a must-go. Two different business lunch options – Express Lunch for $10 offering soup/salad and an entrée and Business Lunch for $20 offering soup/salad, an entrée and dessert. The entrées rotate daily with choices ranging from sea bass, flank steak, pork filet mignon to roasted chicken. The soups are standards: onion, wild mushroom and tomato ba- sil. I had the onion soup paired with pork filet tenderloin and sautéed fingerling potatoes. I am a soup snob. I admit it. And this onion soup was almost perfect. The brandy flavor came through and the cheese was a gorgeous brown. It would have been perfect if I could have had two of them. It was that good. The pork filet was a good follow-up. Fork tender and with a lovely thick butter sauce. Finishing with a delicate black forest cake, I left fully sated. Looking at the rest of the menu, you could also get a good bargain with an appetizer paired with soup or salad. No need to break the bank to eat well here.
Overall, quality French food is scarce in Houston. Quality French food at prices like these is a steal. I plan on stealing more in the very near future.
The lesson learned? A good business lunch doesn’t have to break the bank. You can entertain clients, eat well and still have enough money to have lunch the rest of the week. The bargains are there; you just have to look.