The Capitol at St. Germain
705 Main St Houston, TX 77002
I heard a lot about The Capitol at St. Germain through foodie whisperings on Twitter and have been wanting to try it out. Remember that scene from Sex and the City when Big was going to take Carrie out for a mini vacay, and she wanted him to commit to a relationship, and he didn’t want to, so they broke up, and then they went to this awesome looking jazz club where they slow danced? Ok, I’m not sure about the accuracy of the details I just described, I just know that I wish there was a place like that in Houston. A classy, historical building that plays jazz, serves some good food and cocktails. Is that so much to ask? There’s Cezanne for jazz in Houston, but the space is so small and there’s no room for dancing (or talking), and their cocktails suck. There are plenty of places for dancing but they’re usually the bump and grind type places. I am pro grinding but I am also pro slow-romantic-geriatric dancing.
(Incidentally, I have a genius idea of opening an awesome sex shop where nothing is crazy expensive or tacky, where ladies (and gents! Straight or gay. I welcome all.) can shop for their strap-on’s and pornos comfortably while sipping on champagne and not feel guilty or silly about it. Am I right or am I right?)
ANYway, I was hoping, from everything I heard about Capitol, that it would be something like my SATC fantasy. Renovated historical building: check. Live music: check. Fancy small bites: check. Complicated cocktails: check!
I mean just look at this beautiful shot from Capitol’s Facebook page:
(Image courtesy of the Capitol at St. Germain)
In reality it looks like this:
I know, I know. One is a daytime picture, the other is night-time by my crappy phone. But you can tell the lighting is pretty cheesy and the building just doesn’t look as well done and classy in person.
I’m warning you guys right now that these pictures are TERRIBLE. My phone has somehow decided that if I turn the flash on, it would be white lightning. Without flash, it is dark as Voldemort. I don’t even know. I need to start bringing my camera with me. Sorry.
Aaron had the East End Cooler (Hendricks gin, St. Germain and muddled strawberries) and the St. Tropez (vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice).
They were both served in a very cute St. Germain glasses.
I had the Toasted Flapper (St. Germain with OJ and whiskey) and my usual martini (Tanqueray martini, heavy on the vermouth, served straight up, little bit of olive juice, with two olives. Not pictured).
He ate: My cocktails came in a little miniature pitcher glasses, which is kind of cool. The East End Cooler was really sweet, kind of too sweet for a Hendricks drink, I think. It’s almost as if they’re trying to hide the gin. It’s super fruity, if that’s the thing you go for (I go for that a lot). Very drinkable, not a total let-down. Not bad for a first drink.
The atmosphere was…ok. There was a live band since we went on a Friday night, and the music was blaring. Even though i usually like sitting close to the stage, I was glad we were seated at the furthest seat possible. The building screams for a 1950s jazz band (I mean the waitresses are in flapper dresses for goodness’ sakes) but the band was doing a Prince cover. The lighting was super cheesy and really cheapened the whole vibe.
She ate: I’d come back here for the atmosphere, not for the food (or drinks in my case). I love elderflower syrup but, I think they’re not using the right proportion or something…my Toasted Flapper tasted like lemon juice and simple syrup with a hint of whiskey. It was way too sweet, which is why I switched to a martini (which was only ok, nothing special). They have a nice scotch and bourbon selection, so next time I’ll stick to my usual scotch neat.
We shared the lobster bisque:
He ate: The menu is very strange. It’s grouped into “Act I” and “Act II” with overlapping items. Our waitress said act I is the lunch menu, and act II is the dinner menu, but you can order from both anytime…this doesn’t make any sense to me but whatever.
The lobster bisque was spicy, which was good. I like my foods on the hot side. It’s a very creamy bisque, but not very lobster-y. It doesn’t come with any bread, which I always need to sop up the very last bits of my bisques.
She ate: Lobster bisque was not great. It could have been called Slightly Spicy Creamy Soup and still be accurate. In a blind taste test, I would never have been able to guess it had lobster in it.
Truffle parmesan potato chips
He ate: I loved the truffle chips and could have eaten the entire mountain of them on my own. They were warm and generously seasoned with truffle oil. The foie was ok. I always hold these small bites type places to Catalan, which unfortunately is now closed. The two slices of foie were tiny, and the fried foie balls were like the foie gras bon bons from Catalan but without the delicious juices inside, and with a sweet whipped cream (kind of weird) instead of the jammy sauce.
She ate: The chips were great. They were piping hot and made in-house. Some of the chips folded over and you can actually taste a little bit of soft, warm potato in between the crispy layers. And the fact that it was very truffly made it all the better (I hate it when you can only taste a hint of truffle—stingy!).
Diver scallops and pork belly
He ate: The diver scallops were small and not all that fresh, and the pork belly tasted really just like pulled pork that was not cooked well.
She ate: Scallops were small, pork belly was effing ridiculous like I knew it would be but once again foolishly gave it a chance. So much freaking tough meat with two slivers of fat. WHAT. THE. HECK. The scallops were pretty sad, and let’s not even talk about the wilted greens it was served on. Everything was edible but a very mediocre, literally three bites, for $12? No.
Menage a Foie (pan seared and local fruit compote and torchon with Hot Damn candied shallots and foie sphere)
She ate: The foie gras…what can I say? You can get better foie almost anywhere else…even the canned stuff at Spec’s. The fried foie balls made me sad and whipped cream?! I don’t even know. Don’t get me wrong, it was not in the least bit bad. Foie is delicious by nature. And they didn’t butcher it by overcooking it or anything like that. It was just kind of boring, and if you’re going to torture some poor animal to make this expensive delicacy, it better be mother fucking good.
…and the seared duck breast, which I somehow forgot to photograph. I think maybe subconsciously I didn’t photograph it because it was not an impressive looking dish. It reminded me of the bbq pork you find at any Chinese restaurant, drizzled with some fancy, artsy looking sauces. Ironically, it was the best dish of the night.
He ate: The duck breast was very tender and like Amy said, the best dish of the night. However, they’re not very interesting. They were just cooked in a solid, simple way.
She ate: The duck was very tender, very moist. Had a nice slightly sweet flavor with a raspberry sauce. Nothing really more to say about it. It wasn’t served with anything else…just meat. Fine by me but kind of boring.
He ate: Overall, I would come back to Capitol at St. Germain purely because there aren’t too many places where you can sit, listen to live music, and have some fancy cocktails. Next time I’ll stick to just drinks and maybe one appetizer, as our bill came to $120. I don’t mind paying a lot for food, but if it’s going to be over $100, it better be GOOD, and our food was just above mediocre.
She ate: I think the overarching flaw in Capitol at St. Germain’s food is that there’s not heart in it. When we went to the recently opened Roost, not every dish was a hit, but you can tell Kevin, the owner and chef, just poured his heart into every single thing he created. The food at St. Germain gives me the feeling that someone was like, hmm, what’s trendy right now? Ok, let’s do some pizzas and sandwiches, and some entrees that are very indulgent and rich, and then some stuff that will make everyone happy. Done! Maybe I’m overanalyzing, but that was my impression.
tl; dr: Go if you’re jonesing for a fancy, live music vibe. Stick to classic drinks unless you like very sweet cocktails. Munch on some truffle chips but don’t bother ordering the entrees unless you have money to burn (in which case, hey Mr. Moneybags, you single?).