Monthly Archives: June 2012

Oxheart

Oxheart

1302 Nance Street

Houston, Texas 77002
832.830.8592

http://oxhearthouston.com/

Rating: 8

When one of our favorite couples, Lyle and Adele, asked us to try out Oxheart with them, we were beyond ecstatic! I have been anxiously waiting to eat at this much-anticipated restaurant by Justin Yu and Karen Man and they did not disappoint. We loved the interior of the restaurant and being able to sit by the kitchen was just the cherry on top of the sundae. We decided on the chef’s tasting menu with the wine pairing by sommelier Justin Vann.

Beets with granola, almonds, and wheat berries

He ate: This is the first time I’ve actually liked beets. They were really well cooked and mild in flavor.

She ate: I loved the almond essence flavor in this dish. I don’t really like beets so I was relieved that the sweetness of the almonds covered a bit of the beet flavors. This is the first time I did not hate beets! The crunchy almond slices and the hard texture of the wheat berries paired well with the smoothness of the beets.

Smoked young daikon and radishes with smoked creme fraiche

He ate: I thought this was…fine. Both the yolk and the smoked creme fraiche were super delicious. To me, the daikon was just a vehicle for the sauces. It could’ve been a saltine cracker as long as it delivered the sauce to my mouth.

She ate: I liked that the creme fraiche was sweet while smokey. That was a nice combination. The daikon was good but having grown up eating daikon regularly, it was not particularly exciting to me, smoked or not.

Dinner rolls

He ate: These were very good and fresh out of the oven, but I wouldn’t say they were the best bread I’ve ever had. It is cool that they make it to order. It’ll always be consistent and never stale!

She ate: I agree, piping hot rolls will always be good but…bread is bread, yo! I was very impressed that they made gluten-free rolls just for Adele. I had a little bite and those were just as good as ours, a feat hard to achieve! Bravo on that!

Adele’s gluten-free rolls!

Crawfish warmed in butter over Texas rice

He ate: This was probably my favorite dish! I really liked the rice even better than the crawfish, which were succulent and flavorful. The rice was in this sauce that was almost a rue…and had all of the great crawfish flavors. I’m usually not a fan of rice in general but this…I could have eaten a bucketful. The texture was just…I don’t know how they did it. It wasn’t squishy or crunchy, just a little bit al dente.

She ate: Oh my god I so agree. The crawfish was great but the rice! It was in between the perfect fried rice and a gumbo…the texture was swoon worthy. I don’t know how to explain it. It wasn’t too al dente so it was able to absorb all the flavors.

Barley and sunflower seeds stew with beans and gulf hake

He ate: I was confused by this dish. I thought it was supposed to feature the fish, but it really was more like a barley stew. The entire dish was a little too salty. The baby greens offset the savory but not quite enough. However, I still enjoyed the rest of the dish.

She ate: I didn’t think the whole dish was too salty, I thought just the fish was very salty (but I like salty so no complaints here!). The rest of the stew was not salty so I thought it was a nice contrast to have a little bit of fish, then some barley. It reminds me of eating savory little dishes to go with the very bland congee I grew up eating. The grenache blend that paired with this stew was brilliant. It was a light red that went perfectly with the fish. The wine was very woody and oaky yet still retained lightness.

Potatoes and vegetable hash with pesto

He ate: Great flavors, not all that creative, but paired awesome with the Gertzweiner. Of all the pairings I thought this one was the best. The crisp and slightly sweet Gertzweiner played off the savory crunchy potatoes quite well.

She ate: I liked that the pesto acted as a condiment for the potatoes, like ketchup and fries. Some of the potatoes looked like short ribs or some form of substantial meat, so every time I put it in my mouth I would think “oh maybe THIS piece is meat!” and was constantly disappointed…but the potatoes were pretty fucking delicious so I shouldn’t complain. #firstworldproblems. They cut the potatoes at the exact right size where the ratio of crispy skin to soft insides was just perfect. However…not the most inventive dish.

Beef shank with yellow carrot, seaweed, and preserved lime

He ate: I thought the beef was peculiar but in a good way. The carrots were fine but nothing crazy.

She ate: I expected this to be a steak, but when I cut into it, it fell off my fork. This was such a pleasant surprise! It was super tender yet a bit crispy on the outside! This is pretty hard to achieve…as a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had meat this way. I also thought everything was JUST salty enough. That’s my usual complaint at steakhouses. It’s either overly salty or completely bland. I love roasted carrots in general so that was a big thumbs up for me. Every other dish, I gave half of mine to Aaron, but this one I gobbled it all up!

Layer chocolate cake with chilled beets

He ate: Well…at least there was a lot of chocolate for just a little bit of beets. Of course I wish there was no beets in my cake at all, there was that saving grace. It looked pretty and was chocolatey and went well with the Trappist ale. I thought all of our pairings were very inspired. There were a couple of misses, but the three or four pairings that I really liked—I REALLY LIKED. They really added something to the meal. Often I get wine pairings and I think the wine would actually be better without the food…not the case with Justin Vann. He’s truly one of the best sommeliers we’ve come across.

She ate: You know, despite not liking beets, the first beet dish was genius. But beets in desserts are a bit over done in my opinion. I see it in a million food blogs and fancy restaurants…let’s move on here. The flavor just did not work for me. Beets and chocolate just should not go together. Ever.

tl; dr: Oxheart lives up to the hype!

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Indika

Indika

516 Westheimer Road

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 524-2170

http://www.indikausa.com

Rating: h8

A long, long time ago, Aaron and I went to Indika. Being on college student budgets, we discovered we really could only afford to drink our dinner and left after a round of cocktails. Years later, we decided to revisit the parent restaurant of our beloved Pondicheri. Pondicheri converted Aaron into an Indian food lover (lucky for me since I was already a fan and could never convince Aaron myself).

Our hostess was very nice to us, offering a booth so that we could sit next to each other. Our waiter…not so much. He seemed really busy (although there were plenty of wait staff and the restaurant was half empty). When I asked for three olives in my martini, I was informed that they were blue cheese stuffed olives and cost three dollars each…but he would do me a huge favor and give it to me anyway. Hmmph.

Amuse bouche: cucumber with spicy yogurt and stewed lentils

He ate: I really enjoyed this. It was a little savory, a little spicy. Quite nice.

She ate: A simple dish, nothing crazy but pretty enjoyable.

Pork Belly & Kale wraps: grilled pork belly marinated in tamarind & black pepper, sweet potato fries, fig chutney & kale

He ate: Since pork belly, sweet potatoes, and kale are literally Amy’s three favorite things, I suggested getting this. It was alright. Individually it was all fine. The pork was too chewy but the flavor was fine. The sweet potatoes were REALLY good, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. I would order it again to see if the pork belly is better cooked next time.

She ate: Let me put it this way. My knife could not cut the pork belly. It was really chewy and definitely not braised long enough. That being said, I actually didn’t mind the chewy texture. I prefer chewy over tough, stringy meat any day. But I prefer soft and tender over both chewy or tough.  And the fat of the belly was nowhere to be found. I agree the sweet potatoes were great but it’s kind of hard to mess up sweet potatoes.

Goat Brain Masala: goat brains quick braised with amchur masala, served over a pistachio apricot naan

He ate: I’ve never had brains before so I really wanted to try it. I was disappointed that the flavors of everything else really overwhelmed the brains, so I couldn’t really taste any of that essence of goat you always taste. I know Amy really liked it…A LOT. I thought it was an interesting dish and maybe something I would order again just to see if I like it better next time.

She ate: Mmmmmm goaaaaaaat braaaaaaaaaaaains how I love thee. The naan was perfectly pillowy and crispy to compliment the soft tofu-like texture of the brains. I could taste the goat essence (although I’m very sensitive to that taste. I used to not eat goat cheese because I equated goat flavor to monkey balls, but I’ve grown to like monkey balls). I also love sweet savory pairings in general, so the pistachio apricot was a brilliant addition. I could eat two or more of these pies and be a very happy brainy girl!

Stuffed Eggplant: purple eggplant stuffed with paneer & roasted cashews,
fresh turmeric curry & sautéed greens

He ate: Sorry I didn’t try this.

She ate: I liked this fine, but it was super bland and I could barely find the paneer in it. Actually, I couldn’t tell what any of the ingredients were since they were pretty much blended and mixed in…nor could I taste the flavors. Overall a huge snoozeville. Not worth the calories of paneer and cashews…or the $18 price tag.

Mango Chutney Chicken: Bryan Farms chicken breast stuffed with fresh mango chutney in a tomato almond curry

He ate: It wasn’t mango-y enough. It was just chicken…and there were some okra and potatoes on there. It was okay but nothing special. I thought it would be more mango and coconut milk but it was a pretty bland dish. I did want something lighter but this was too boring.

She ate: Zzzzz…oh and the chicken was tough.

Overall it was an okay experience but really there are zero reasons for us to return. I would have rather gone…anywhere.  ..anywhere with flavor. Almost everything other than the brains were just so bland, which I find astounding for Indian food. I don’t even know how you make Indian food bland since so much of it is spice based. Aaron actually found the dishes to be spicy but in a predictable way. A dish would arrive, he knew how it would taste, and then that would be it.

tl; dr: Expensive, not that good, weird service. Stick with Pondicheri.