Friday, January 25, 2013

Old Favourite Review: Churrasco's

Churrasco's is a Houston institution founded by Nicaraguan native Michael Cordúa, opened in 1988--25 years when  August 8, 2013 rolls around.  4 months in he was apparently ready to give up the ship when critics from the New York Times and Esquire Magazine visited and praised the cusine upstreet and down alley.  Over time he expanded his operation, and branched out into other restaurant ventures, consistently garnering awards, and apparently the great love of Esquire Magazine.  He introduced Houston to some of its first non-Mexian Latin Cuisine.  His son David Cordúa is a Cordon Bleu Chef and is a partner in this and his other restaurant ventures Amazon, Artista, Americas and Cordúa Catering.  Along with the Christie Family of Christie's Seafood, the Adair Family of Los Tios & Skeeter's Mesquite Grill & Adair Kitchen; the Goode Family of Goode & Co. BBQ; and the Zwirek Family of Star Pizza, The Cordúa Family stands among Houston's great Food Families,  whose cuisine for which we are quite grateful.

Note the modern look fused with forest design
I remember taking more than a few dates to their Westchase location back in the 1990s and enjoying them tremendously.  However, like with many old favourite restaurants, we sometimes neglect them in favour of the new, hip and current, taking for granted they will always be there.  On this lovely and unseasonably warm evening, me and the family felt like we ought to pay them an overdue visit and see if they were as good as we remembered.  We also felt like enjoying a patio and figured visiting their newest location in Sugar Land would afford us a nice lakefront view.  Neither the food nor the west-facing patio disappointed us.

Market Vegetable Plate with Yucca, Sweet Plantain,
grilled zucchini and  carrots with basmati rice
We were served the usual appetizer of fried plantain chips with red and green pesto-like sauces, very nice to start with--crunchy, only slightly sweet, tangy and savoury.  One of us ordered the Pisco Punch cocktail which had that nice citrus, slightly sour essence that we know so well in Houston's Peruvian and South American restaurants. The kids menu is quite reasonable at $7.00 for a choice of plantain encrusted chicken strips, a petite beef filet or quesadillas (plain cheese or margharita) served with a choice of fresh fruit or thin shoestring french fries.  My kids chose the plantain encrusted chicken strips and plain cheese quesadillas.  The adults in our party looked over the menu and considered getting the The Churrasco Steak (one of Esquire's 20 best in America every year for a looooooong time) or their Ceviche Copacabana.  However, we decided to not go for the obvious choices and instead branch out a bit.  I went with The Parrillada (a mixed grill of chimichurri basted beef tenderloin, achiote pork tenderloin, chicken, shrimp & argentine sausage with picante chiles y cebollas) while my colleague went with Roasted Salmon (salmon with achiote grilled shrimp, tomatillo broth, avocado, queso fresco, pico de gallo & charred tortilla).  Our party enjoyed a market vegetable plate (yucca, sweet plantain & basmati rice) on the side.

The Parrillada-a nice sampling of Churrasco's Meats
The Parrillada is a very good deal.  You get 3 different types of turf plus 2 types of shrimp.  All of the meats are well seasoned and full of flavour.  The beef tenderloin is indeed tender and juicy.  The pork tenderloin is sweet and chewy.  The chicken is fully cooked but not dry.  And the shrimp are both sweet and spicy, and pack a nice little spicy punch.  The meats are well seasoned--not overly seasonded mind you, but properly so that the meat's flavour is enhanced, not over powered.  They were served with caramelized onions and red chiles that have a sweet heat that hit you on the back end.  After enjoying this generous plate with the sweet plantains and rice, I had absolutely no room for dessert.

Roasted Salmon with achiote grilled shrimp
The Roasted Salmon was nicely plated, salty, slightly spicy and savoury, with the spicier shrimp.  The cheese and avocado work well with the fish and the charred tortilla add a little crunch to the mix.  This is a smaller plate, made for a smaller appetite in my opinion, but it does not scrimp on flavour at all.  Again, Churrasco's shows they are still doing things as well as always and they did a very good job of taking care of us.  My kids were very pleased with their dishes as well, no complaints, just clean plates--which made the adults very happy as sometimes my kids don't always have as adventurous a palate as the adults have in our family.

The staff gave great service--it was properly timed and attentive, but was not intrusive or excessive and they did not engage in what I like to call "aggressive beverage service"--in other words you have your iced tea sweetened just right and three sips in they top it off when you're not looking and you have to adjust it all over again.  The food came out relatively quick and was properly cooked.  Nice job, Churrasco's!  The restrooms were very clean and  had  a great design as far as elevated sink bowls made out of clay, automatic faucets that came down into them like a small waterfall.  My son found that especially entertaining for some reason.

Helena enjoys a Quesadilla
Report Card for Churrasco's Sugar Land:
     Parrillada: A+
     Roasted Salmon: A
     Kids Food (Quesadilla, Plantain encrusted chicken tenders) : A
     Market Vegetable Plate: A
     Speed: A+
     Friendliness: A
     Dining Area/Patio: A+
     Kitchen:  Incomplete (did not see)
     Men's Room: A

Overall Grade: A

Churrasco's has 3 locations in the Houston area.
We visited the Sugar Land location at:
Pisco Punch... Mmmmm!!! 
1520 Lake Pointe Parkway, Suite 500
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Ph: 832.532.5300

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday: 11 am - 4 pm
Saturday: 11:30 am - 4 pm

Monday - Thursday: 4 pm - 9:30 pm
Friday - Saturday: 4 pm - 10:30 pm
Sunday: 3:00 pm - 9 pm

Sunday: 10:30 am - 3:00 pm
Outdoor Patio Seating Available.

And Remember to Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Churrascos - Sugar Land on Urbanspoon

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