I don’t know how you celebrate your birthday, but if you’re a Houston Chowhound, you call up the best new restaurant in the city and ask if they’d mind roasting a whole pig for you and your buddies. No joke.
A few weeks ago, Peggy Chowhound dialed Feast -- the acclaimed “rustic European fare” restaurant in the lower Westheimer hotbed -- and requested an all-pork-all-the-time birthday fiesta. The *lovely* restauranteurs were more than happy to oblige, and last night they prepared a banquet fit for a queen and her army.
We started with canapés: pate with cornichons on toast, grilled sweetbreads, welsh rarebit, and pork backfat. The pate, served cold, had an excellent flavor, and the sweetbreads were the best I’ve had. I had never tried Welsh rarebit (a savory cheese mixture topped with Worcestershire and served warm on toast). Owner/chef/butcher James Silk and his fabulous British accent did the serving, and several of us stupid Americans (said with love) kept thinking he was saying “Welsh rabbit.” No sir. Anyway, the RAREBIT was creamy and salty, all at once. I loved. And despite my affection for pork belly, the backfat, served cold, was not for me.
And then? Baked scallops topped with a mushroom-brandy-cream sauce. Per chef Silk, look out for the mace and Jack Daniels in there as well. Simply smashing -- Such an interesting combination of flavors. Mace is so popular in European cooking, yet rarely used here.
Next came the salads: a standard house salad, plus the real winner: Dandelion greens with pork cheek. In true British style, there was little to no dressing, but the bitterness of the greens complimented the pork cheek perfectly.
The big hizzah: Enter the pigs. There is something about pulling meat directly from an entirely roasted pig, rather than cooking smaller, individual pieces. This was, hands down, the best pork I have ever had. The meat was tender and flavorful, melting right off the bones, well complimented by the mounds of stuffing, carrots, Brussels sprouts, kale with anchovies, and mashed potatoes on the side.
Misha grabbed a head and sawed into it to hand out tasty bits of pork cheek and chin. The chin was too fatty for me, but that piece of cheek was my favorite bite of the evening.
All in all, a brilliant birthday evening. If you haven’t been to Feast, go. Interesting combinations, unique flavors, and *very* reasonable prices make this one a keeper.
Feast – 219 Westheimer