Saturday, October 10, 2009

Marks American

Mark’s American Cuisine
1658 Westheimer
Houston TX
Monday - Friday 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM $8 to $29
Situated in a renovated church the outside brick walls do not speak to the sumptuous interior. This place is so popular and high tone that reservations should be made even for lunch. We did this three months in advance and barely got in. However every bite of the food was worth it. I dined with a friend from Houston, her son, her brother and sister in law. The brother was a real estate mogul from the Northshore of the Pontchartrain. This was last year so he had deep pockets then. He footed the bill without blinking. I get what I want to get whether I am paying or someone else is. I am only covering lunch here. If you are interested in dinner go to the web site.
Bread and butter come to the table first. They have their own butter mold with a capital Mon on top of the pat. The breadbasket possessed six different types of bread. All artisan, ranging from baguettes to pumpernickel and all delicious.
First was appetizers all round. My friend’s consisted of a flan of butternut and spaghetti squash surrounded by a ragout of seasonal mushrooms with an acorn squash crescent roasted with brown sugar. A sage infused beurre blanc completed it. Her son went with hearth roasted oysters topped with a ragout of jumbo crab and roasted leeks in truffle aioli vinaigrette. Her sister-in-law got the crispy crab cake with cream chile remoulade vinaigrette topped by shoestring potatoes. A work of art as all the dishes were. The brother ordered roasted corn chowder with smoked applewood bacon, potatoes and thyme. I know how it taste as I got is as a soup course. Rich, thick, and hearty with great smokiness and corn flavor. My appetizer consisted of crab four ways. It contained a shelled Alaskan king crab segment over two mini crab cakes. A deshelled stone crab claw sat over a corn timbale. An Indonesian crab salad stood nearby. Citrus supremes decorated the plate and I had three relishes to play with (mango, avocado and tomato, roasted red bell pepper). It looked like a dish and I felt like a judge on Iron Chef. Next for me was a salad. I was going soup to nuts with this one. At this point I thought I was paying my own way. The salad was sliced tomatoes and roasted bell pepper with two forms of mozzarella (tiny balls of fresh and slices of in housed smoked) in a balsamic and green peppercorn vinaigrette. The foremost and best caprese I have ever had.
My friend’s entree was a seafood trio of seared scallop, grilled shrimp and a smoked salmon rose with a crisp pasta cake on a lemon dill sauce. Her son opted for crisp oak fired double breast of chicken with mashed Yukon gold potatoes and asparagus in a porcini mushroom sauce. The brother ordered American Wagu (Kobe beef) and Kurobuta pork (the pork equivalent of Kobe). His wife’s entree consisted of pecan crusted chicken breast stuffed with sundried tomatoes and smoked mozzarella in a bourbon sauce. I went with a pan roasted pacific black cod (also known as butterfish) with two tempura shrimp and a spring vegetable risotto that included fiddlehead ferns. The fish was like butter really, rich and unctuous with great flavor. I am not a risotto fan but this was good. I especially like the taste of the fiddleheads, grassy and herbal. The shrimp were delicious as well. I can only assume everyone else was enjoying their food because silence reigned and plates were cleaned up.
My friend had a raspberry shortbread tart. Warm raspberry compote in a shortbread crust topped with pistachio ice cream. Her son got a banana cream pie. The brother went for old fashion strawberry shortcake, fresh strawberries and whipped cream between a biscuit. His wife went Meyer lemon. A multi-layer lemon cake with lemon icing and a scoop of lemon sorbet. They all looked wonderful and normally I would have indulged but they had a cheese plate. Something I rarely encounter but love. This one had Manchego, blue cheese, Brie and a triple creme served with candied pecans, glazer apple slices and membrillo (quince paste). It was fun trying different combo of cheese and accompaniments
This place was a delight with spot on service and extraordinary food. However it is pricey. On the dinner menu appetizers are in the $20 ranges with entrees going form $35 to $50. Have to take out a bank loan. However for a one in a life time experience I would do it again

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