Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 Round Up Part 2: Great Places to Go Eat on Thanksgiving

Yesterday, I talked about great places to order your Thanksgiving Dinner to go.  Today, I'm talking about great places to go out and eat on Thanksgiving.  While some folks have reservations about going out to eat as service staff is away from their families, I have been assured that these are staffed by all volunteers who look forward to the Holiday and welcome the chance to earn Holiday Pay and Holiday Tips (PLEASE be generous!).  So with that understood, here we are:

Thanksgiving Brunch at the OMNI Hotel Houston
Turkey with all the trimmings is the word for their Annual Thanksgiving Brunch. Four Riverway, Houston, Texas 77056 On Thursday, November 27, 2014 with seating times are 10:00 am until 2:30 pm--featured items will include a Kids Buffet with a Cotton Candy Machine, a Gourmet Omelet Station, Crepe & Waffle Station, Multiple Carving Stations featuring Maple Bourbon Glazed Pork Steamship, Prime Rib, Salmon en Croute, Smoked Brisket & Pecan Sausage, Champagne Station, Sushi & Seafood Station and a Traditional Spanish Valencia Style Paella. The cost for adults is $71.95 + tax and gratuity, Children – 6-12 years – $32.00 + tax and gratuity, and children – 5 and under – Complimentary.

For more information and reservations please call (713) 871-8181 or visit omnihotels.com.  

The Capital Grille is Hosting Thanksgiving This Year
Make your reservations now for the City Centre or the Galleria location.  The Capital Grille will treat you and your guests to an exceptionally refined Thanksgiving this year.  Besides serving their full menu, they will also be doing an elegant take on traditional Thanksgiving favourites.  The only work in it for you is to simply reserve your elegantly appointed table!

City Centre: 840 Sam Houston Parkway N.

Galleria:  5635 Westheimer Rd.

Tandoori Turkey Time at Kiran's Modern Indian Cuisine
On Thanksgiving Day (Nov 27th) Kiran's will be open from 11 AM to 3 PM for a Reservations-Only Thanksgiving Dinner with an Indian Twist. This will be a buffet style dinner which include:
Photo Courtesy of Kiran's

Soups: Roasted Butternut Squash & Pear Soup with Freshly Grated Nutmeg OR Garlic & Onion Focaccia

A Salad Bar

Main Buffet:
Queen of the Table
Tandoori Organic Turkey, with Wild Mushrooms, Apricots, Red Onions & Brioche Stuffing, and Apple Cranberry Relish
Tandoori Scottish Salmon with Cranberry Chutney
Slow-braised Colorado Lamb Shank with Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese & Red Onion Potatoes
Double-baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows with Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino

Green Beans Almandine with Fried Onion Rings
Braised Cabbage with Fresh Curry Leaves
Cumin-scented Yellow Squash with Tamarind
Garlic Mushrooms
Macaroni Au Gratin
Apricot & Cranberry Biryani
Chicken Tikka Masala
Bagare Bengan
Besan Kadi
Fresh Naan at Your Table

Desserts include Pecan Pie with Vanilla Cream, Pumpkin Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries, Carrot Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Icing, Gulab Jamun with Saffron Simple Syrup, Macaroons or Pistachio Kheer

Charge is $55 per adult guest and $25 for children (under 12). *Please note that some menu items may change based on availability.

Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner
As families gather to break bread and give thanks over the holiday season, Texas Land & Cattle has everything to help make this year’s Thanksgiving Day feast savory and simple. The popular steakhouse is currently accepting reservations at all locations for its specially crafted Thanksgiving dinner. The meal, which for just $18.99 comes complete with a hearty helping of juicy smoked turkey and gravy, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce and sweet potato soufflé, is a homemade spread tasty enough to make even Grandma smile. Make sure you save room for dessert! TXLC is also offering creamy pumpkin cheesecake drizzled with melted caramel for just $6.49.The holiday menu also features a kid’s feast for $7.99. Make your reservations ASAP!  To find the location nearest you, please visit TexasLandandCattle.com.

Pappas BBQ has a Dine-in Thanksgiving Dinner
As someone who has enjoyed Pappa's Smoked Turkey with all the sides on Thanksgiving, I can't forget to mention that select locations will be open on Turkey Day.  Pappas BBQ's Thanksgiving meal includes Hickory Smoked Turkey, Smoked Ham, Cornbread Stuffing Green Bean Casserole, Yams, Giblet Gravy, Cranberry Sauce and a Dinner Roll; all for $11.95. Dessert is extra but will be available. Their main menu will NOT be available, however.

Participating Houston Locations include but are not limited to:

7007 Hwy. 59 South at Bellaire
(713) 772-4557

703 FM 1960 West
(281) 893-5711

9797 Westheimer
(713) 780-0081

12917 NW Freeway
(713) 462-2550

Thanksgiving hours are 9 AM to 6 PM at the select locations.  No reservations needed.  Expect there to be a line, though!  ;)  

Boxing it all Up
I know there are many other great places to go eat on Thanksgiving, and I would love to mention a few more.  However, This is a good representation of what Houston has to offer.  Wherever you go, I hope you truly enjoy your meal and are truly thankful for the many blessings your life has.

Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 Round up Part 1: Places to Order Thanksgiving Take Out

Well Dear Readers, with Thanksgiving upcoming, many of us want to try to find a way to lighten the work load and make it easier to serve the family a good quality meal with a minimum of clean-up.  So why not instead get your Thanksgiving to go from some of our greatest places here in Houston?  While I've already mentioned Not Jus' Donuts and 3 Brothers Bakery as great places to get your Thanksgiving Sweet Treats, I've got a couple of great local places and a couple of good chains that I recommend as a way to get your self out of the kitchen and with the family eating, watching football or whatever else will make you happy!  LET'S DIG IN!!!

Jonathan's The Rub for Thanksgiving 
Jonathan's The Rub is accepting Thanksgiving catering orders and attached is a PDF of all of the menu items he is offering to prepare, as well as details regarding placing orders. All orders must be placed by Wednesday, November 20. Jonathan is also accepting reservations to lend his catering services to holiday parties, whether it's corporate parties or in-home holiday gatherings, Jonathan is happy to bring his catering services where they are needed. These slots are filling up fast and are accepted on a first come, first serve basis.  My pal Jonathan Levine would LOVE to make your Holiday Special!  Jonathan's The Rub is located in the Memorial Villages at 9061 Gaylord Street.  Phone number is 713-467-9000 for catering!  Click on the menu to your left to view it full size and check out all that is available!!!

Goode Co. Thanksgiving Pies and Turkeys
Houstonians can  visit the pie booths at the three Goode Company Barbeque locations (5109 Kirby Dr, 9911 Katy Freeway and 20102 Northwest Freeway). The booths will be open for Thanksgiving pick-ups on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 25 and 26.  See the menu to your right for more details.  Knowing how GOODE those pies and smoked Turkeys are, they will be going fast!!!

Just a quick FYI: the mesquite-smoked turkeys must be ordered in advance at the pick up location of choice. The chocolate cream pies and Brazos Bottom Pecan Pies do not need to be pre-ordered. Customers simply drive up to the location of their choice and a Goode Company staff member will bring the turkey and/or pie to your car.

Texas Land & Cattle Offering Turkey To Go
All TXLC locations are also set up to send your turkeys to go with a full Thanksgiving catering menu. All catering orders must be placed by Nov. 24 for Thanksgiving Day pick up. Restaurants will be open Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. “Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our many blessings while celebrating the gift of family. Enjoy your time together while we take care of the rest,” said Beth Collins, vice president of marketing at Texas Land & Cattle. “For those who want to take their turkey home this holiday, our special catering services are the perfect option. Of course, our doors are open as well – either way, we want Texas Land & Cattle to be a part your festive gathering.” To find the location nearest you, visit TexasLandandCattle.com.

Drew's Pastry Place Has Desserts To Go 
It would be wrong for me to not also mention my pal Drew Rogers and Drew's Pastry Place.  In fact, Carla reminded me that now is the time to place your orders BEFORE the big Rush next week. They have a great selection of pies including Drew's Berry Bash, Strawberry-Rhubarb and of course Pumpkin!  However, I very much recommend the Pumpkin Cheesecake--a real New JERSEY style cheesecake loaded with pumpkin and soooooooo goooooood!   Drew's phone number is 832-717-3530.  Place your order, pick up and pay at their location at 10300 Louetta Road just a mile east of State Highway 249--your tastebuds and your guests will thank you for it!

Boxing it all Up
Folks, this is just part 1.  Tomorrow, I'll be talking about a few great places to GO OUT AND EAT on Thanksgiving, for those who don't mind showing extra Holiday cheer via generous tips to our many local service staff who will be working for us on Thanksgiving day.

Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review: Hearsay on the Green Opens, Offers Higher Level of Food Service

Hearsay Gastro Lounge's original location was the brainchild of the Landmark Hospitality Group, who are dedicated to developing Houston’s historically significant properties into stylish hospitality venues for Houstonians and visitors to enjoy.  That location located in what was originally the W.L. Foley building at 218 Travis Street, is a premiere downtown location near Market Square that features many great cocktails as well some fine dishes and small plates to enjoy alongside their cocktails and tap list.  That location has been chugging along for 5+ years and has developed a strong following from all over Houston.  When the Landmark Group opened up Hearsay on the Green at 1515 Dallas Street in the past few weeks, they wanted to bring along some of those great cocktails, while taking the food service up a few notches.  I recently stopped by in order to try some of their signature dishes and found the food to be delicious and the service to be top notch.  While I was enjoying my lunch, I had a chance to talk with Events/Marketing Director Kendall Wuthrich and Executive Chef Edwin Chanas.  What I got was an inside take on what makes Hearsay on the Green similar yet different to the original location.

Many of y'all who've been to the Original Hearsay know it has a great menu which includes great appetizers like Smoked Duck Quesadillas with tart cherry, a huge Angus Burger called the Byrd, and a Roasted Beet Salad.  Many of those items are also at the Hearsay on the Green Menu as well.  Similarly, both locations have a reclaimed industrial feel mixed in with a high end bar & grille, and accented with an over the top Crystal Chandelier.  However, Hearsay on the Green has a bit of a broader selection and an environment that is better suited to the higher end casual diner.  The location is tremendous--right off of Discovery Green in front of George R Brown, inside the downtown Embassy Suites Hotel and catercorner to the Hilton Americas.  They're currently working on getting patio seating set up, as well as establishing a Sunday Brunch just like Original Hearsay.  Overall the feeling is comfortable, slightly elegant, but not too frou-frou.

Sconces like Electric Aztec Cowskulls.  Texas Glitz!
When I met Kendall Wuthrich, who's been with Hearsay from the get go, I asked her what dishes would she and Chef Chanas consider to be representative of Hearsay on the Green.  Chef Canas recommended their grilled pork chop with apple compote and Ms. Wuthrich recommended their Chicken Fried Chicken over dirty rice. I was also wanting to try some of their favourite lunch fare, and having heard about their Saint Arnold Beer Battered Asparagus and Wagyu beef hot dog served with their house Mac N Cheese and Parmesan fries, I knew those were items I didn't want to miss.  No big deal--get a taste of lunch and dinner, good leftovers for the family later.

Chef Edwin Chanas
Chef Edwin Chanas is a Houstonian who came here from Guatamala when he was 5 years old.  That makes him more of a Houstonian than many of our local politicos.  Chef Chanas is a graduate of the Culinary Program of AI Houston.  He's honed his skills at Pappas Steakhouse and Coppa Ristorante prior to coming to Hearsay.  He was at Original Hearsay for a year prior to being promoted to Executive Chef at Hearsay on the Green.  Chef Chanas is quick with a smile, knows food very well and shows tremendous care for how he creates the dishes.  Chanas is most proud of the Grilled Pork Chop.  The pork chop is well seasoned and then properly grilled to juicy, tender perfection.  It's served on a base of the same cheese grits that are used in Hearsay's Famous Shrimp & Grits and local mustard greens.  An apple compote is layered on the top and it's cinnamony aroma hits you first followed by the other scents from the meat, cheese, grits and greens.

One bit of this dish and I could understand why Chef Chanas was so proud of this dish.  First of all the pork isn't overcooked nor is it undercooked.  It's hot and juicy all the way through.  Pork itself is usually a sweeter meat yet this is also seasoned with a bit of savoury, peppery touches that give a little contrast.  Other elements are the aromatics from the cinnamon, the sweetness from the Fuji apples in the compote, the cheese and corn texture of the grits, and the sour/bitter nature of the mustard greens.  All the taste buds were firing up on this dish, with contrasting textures and complementary essences.  My apologies to Mr. Moustache and the Bad Piggies, but this Pork Chop was DA BOMB!

The Chicken Fried Chicken is another grand dish from the Hearsay kitchen.  This is a crispy chicken filet, well seasoned and deep fried, served on haricot vert (FRENCH Green Beans--longer and thinner than their American Cousins) on a bed of their dirty rice (which is loaded with a particular Andouille sausage also found in their Shrimp & Grits) and covered with a nice dollop of their roasted jalapeño cream gravy and a few field greens for a garnish.  While I refuse to dive into the Chicken Fried Steak Debate, for those who are fans and are looking for an alternative, this is a darned good one.  The coating is crunchy, well seasoned and holds in the juices.  The chicken filet itself is generous, meaty, juicy.  The gravy is a little peppery, a little spicy, a little herbal.  The haricot very are crispy, have a hint of butter and herbs in them, and the dirty rice, a little spicy yet have a complex meat essence from the Andouille.  Again, an excellent exemplar of a dish for Hearsay on the Green.

Of course with the proximity to the ballpark, you'd expect there to be some kind of burger or hot dog.  And as someone who has had and loved The Byrd at the original Hearsay (but did not get to post a review as there were camera issues during that particular visit), I chose to go with the Wagyu Beef hot dog served with Parmesan fries and their House Mac n Cheese instead.  Chef Chanas let me know that there are five kinds of cheese in the Mac n Cheese--Feta, 5 year old cheddar, Havarti and two others that escape my memory.  It's got a crispy topping on it, but underneath you've got all those different cheeses in the mix making a creamy coagulation of the macaroni.  NICE!  The Parmesan fries are crispy, have a nice flavour, no mistakes there.  To Hot Dog lovers, this dog is chain sliced midway prior to grilling and served in a Slow Dough Pretzel bun that has been deep fried.  This dog packs a buttery tender bold punch that I'd expect from Wagyu Beef.  It's served with condiments on the side--I just went with bold yellow mustard and enjoyed it immensely.  And before I forget, I snacked on the Saint Arnold Beer Battered Asparagus as well--nice crunchy outside, tender asparagus inside, served with a nice creamy dipping sauce.  Brock Wagner would approve, I'm sure!

Since I was carefully saving some of each of these other dishes to bring home to the family for dinner, I wanted to try one more dish that I'd have all to myself.  I asked Ms. Wurthich and Chef Chanas which dessert they felt was best representing Hearsay on the Green.  Without hesitation they both said "Bread Pudding."  I've had all kinds of Bread Pudding, and it's a fave of mine when it's done right.  And this one most certainly is done right!  Slow Dough Brioche bread forms the base, along with house-made vanilla extract, a house made caramel, garnished with fresh berries and served with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream on top.  This dessert is warm, the ice cream helps cool it off a bit-it's not excessively wet, nor dry, isn't wiggly, and tastes like I'd expect a properly crafted Bread pudding should.  Epic win for me as the diner!

For sure I am definitely coming back and bringing the family along.  This would make a great late lunch after an afternoon exploring downtown, a snack before a concert or a Rockets Game or a wonderful business lunch during the week.  Fans of Original Hearsay will find their favourites there, along with a few new items, all in a more dining oriented environment.

Report Card for Hearsay on the Green:
     Grilled Pork Chop: A+ 
     Chicken Fried Chicken: A
     Wagyu Beef Hot Dog: A+
     Mac N Cheese: A+
     Saint Arnold Battered Asparagus: A
     Bread Pudding: A+
     Speed: A
     Friendliness: A+
     Dining Area/Bar: A+
     Other areas: Incomplete (did not see)
Atmosphere (Modern Reclaimed Bistro 
with a Houston Elegant Touch):  A

Overall Grade: A

Hearsay on the Green is located at:
1515 Dallas Street
Houston, TX  77002

Mon-Thu: 11 AM to Midnight
Fri-Sat: 11 AM to 2 AM
Sun: 11 AM to 10 PM

Happy Hour:
Mon-Fri: 4 PM to 7 PM
Sat: 1 PM to 6 PM

Eat Happy, Y'all!!!