Last night I kicked off Houston Restaurant Week with ten Chowhounds at *17. While I used to shun restaurants inside hotels, a new generation has popped up, and I’ve since rethought my stance on the issue. Indeed *17 has gotten a lot of play in the local media, and I was aflutter upon walking into the Alden Hotel downtown.
The space is deceptively small, but lovely-ish, and we begin the meal with a quick amuse bouche: tuna tartar atop a watermelon radish. The bite was beautiful in presentation, and the tuna’s flavor was nice, but the watermelon radish proves overpowering. But no reason to be alarmed, right? Bring on the epic three-course menu!
The first course is a choice between tomato soup (with pork belly, we’re told) and a baby lettuce salad. Given my affinity for both tomatoes and pork belly, the soup is an easy decision. Unfortunately, though, it arrives plain, acidic, and SANS PORK BELLY. Like, none. Hmpf. We are unimpressed, but hold onto hope that the next course will win back our hearts.
Oh, brother. Second course is a choice between halibut with corn pudding or a NY strip steak with potato puree, spinach, and a bordelaise sauce. I choose the fish, which arrives fine and all… yet it was the only thing on the plate! That teensy squirt of corn puree does *not* a side dish make. Where is all my food-glorious-food? Pangs of jealousy creep in as I watch the three who ordered the steak devour a full plate of vitals. [Sigh.]
Whatever. On to dessert: a choice between a chocolate fondant cake or homemade ice cream. I go with the cake, which proves to be bittersweet and too dry. Though still hungry from my lack of sustenance [grrr!], I decline to waste the calories.
- GOOD: the bread and whipped butter were fantastic, and we had a Beringer 2002 reserve cabernet that knocked my socks off.
- BAD: the meal, in general, and still being hungry afterwards.
- UGLY: we debated going out for sliders post dinner. No, really.
Not the winning experience for which I’d hoped, but perhaps redemption will come at VOICE on Wednesday. Don’t just take my word for it, though... Check out what Jenny who’s never full and Misha of Tasty Bits have to say.
*17 - 1117 Prairie (downtown)
Big plate, small food. I was crying inside. And why is there a huge crevasse in my fish?
Now THIS is a plate of food. Looks can be deceiving, though -- Reviews for this entree were mediocre as well.