Monday, December 30, 2013

13 for 2013: Roost Houston

Well folks, this is the last of my 13 restaurants I wanted to try in 2013 unless Oxheart calls me between Dec. 29 and 31 to tell me the have a table.  I'm not holding my breath!  And that's okay, because Roost Houston in Montrose is a fine place to wrap up this particular category for the year!

Kevin Naderi is the Chef/Restaurateur and the mind behind the concept called Roost: Food & Drink Amongst Friends.  Naderi has done a full circuit around several great places in Houston, having worked for Brennan’s, Haven, Soma and St. Genevieve at West Avenue.  My server told me something that had somehow fallen through my mental cracks before I'd come to visit:  the overall menu changes every 5 weeks, with the only constants being the fried cauliflower and the Coffee 'n Donut Holes dessert being the only constant on the menu.  This basically means I could have eaten there 10 times and possibly not had the same main dish twice!  In any event, Naderi's menu is inspired by places he's worked and lived, as well as his Persian heritage.  Just perusing the menu you can catch the Persian in the use of ground pistachios in his desserts, Asian influences in the Miso Sauce for the broccoli and good ol' Southern US home cooking in his use of local veggies, but all of them have a bit of an odd hook to them making them familiar and yet different.  Just so you know, if you click that link to the menu next week, you won't see the same menu I saw when I visited Roost the 2nd to last week of 2013.

It was early evening and I felt like a beer.  Thankfully Roost has a short list of different craft beers available in bottle, can or on tap.  I went with The Crisp Pilsner from Sixpoint Brewing for my starter while I evaluated the menu.  I could have gotten some of their high end bread service using bread from Slow Dough bakery and two kinds of spread, one of them being Naderi's own Pimento Cheese or Vietnamese Coffee Butter.  I could have a Mason Jar of pickled local vegetables (I may want to see if I can buy them, and the jar and bring them home next time I drop in!).  I sipped this crisp Pilsner beer (it was as named!) as I kept on thinking over whether or not to get an appetizer, and debating over a couple off main dishes.  It was a toss up between the fresh catch of the day and the brown sugar pork chop.  My server described how the pork chop was cooked, and it reminded me of the delicious pork I had recently at Haven (Naderi worked at Haven before so it seemed natural to make that connection), so I had to go with it (apologies again to Mr. Moustache!).  The Pork chop is cured in house, coated with brown sugar and seasoning, then deep fried so a nice crust forms around it from the sugar.  It's served with a creamy mustard braised greens and a sweet tomato chow chow topping.

This pork chop is served up with one piece bone in, and the other piece no bone, on top of the mustard braised greens, with this semi-crunchy chow chow on the top.  The aroma is like having pork chops or maybe Brown Sugar cured Christmas Ham at your old country Aunt's home, but yet also quite Haute.  The Brown Sugar makes a very crunchy, malty, sweet glaze on the pork, while the inside is hot, juicy and chewy.  This pork was so delicious--it was like a prime rib steak with bone on was fused with a brown sugar cured ham.  So meaty, so full of flavour.  Definitely no diner's remorse here, I can tell you!  The mustard braised greens weren't some limp heavily boiled collard, turnip or mustard greens.  They were crunchy, a little like kale or arugula, but not.  There was a slightly bitterness to them reminding me of cilantro, mixed in with the creamy mustard sauce that ended with a spicy kick.  A really good take on an old Southern favourite side dish veggie that I was VERY PLEASED WITH.  The sweet tomato chow chow was like green tomatillo puree and the crunchy topping on it was a nice touch.  Well done Chef Naderi!

Since I'd  passed on the fried Cauliflower, I chose to indulge in their regular dessert--Coffee 'n Donut holes.  These are about 5 or 6 house prepared doughnut holes that have been coated in a little cinnamon, sugar and perhaps cardamom, topped with hot salted caramel and coffee ice cream from Cloud 10 creamery.  This dessert was a yummy masterpiece.  The concept reminded me of the fried Oreos topped with ice cream at Plucker's a few weeks back, that was taken up like a thousand notches with the wonderful house made dougnut holes, sweet, chewy and a little crunchy, the awesome salted caramel drizzled all over and the crunch of pistachios that made me think a bit of Baklava.   My favourite nuts are Pistachios and Cashews, so that was a nice added bit of flavour twang and contrast.  The coffee ice cream was dense and smooth, just as experienced & expected at Cloud 10.  When I was finished, there were no plates left that weren't empty, and I was a full, satisfied, delighted diner!!!

Report Card for Roost Houston:
Food & Beverage:
     The Crisp Pilsner from Sixpoint: A- 
     Brown Sugar Pork Chop: A+
     Mustard Braised Greens: A+
     Tomato Chow Chow: A
     Coffee 'n Donut Holes: A++
Service:
     Speed: A-
     Friendliness: A+
Cleanliness: 
     Dining area: A+
     Kitchen: Incomplete
     Men's Room: Incomplete
Atmosphere (Unpretentious Montrose Bistro): A

Overall Grade: A

On a side note:  this is 10 of my 13 restaurants I want to try in 2013.  I won't be able to make all 13 because I can't seem to get reservations at Oxheart (been trying all year), Corkscrew BBQ closed up Dec 23 to Jan 2, and Feast shut down for good back in August.  I really should have been more diligent about this list--hitting 10 of them, putting me at 77%.  So for next year I am not going to do 14 for 2014. From here on out I'm doing 12 special places on a list for the year on top of the other places that I visit, events I attend and so forth.  I will make Oxheart and Corkscrew BBQ my 1st two of the full list (which will be posted by January 7), allowing for 1 per month so I can pace myself rather than scramble and playing catchup during Midwinter Break.  I appreciate everyone reading the blog and following this goal I had in 2013.   I especially appreciate the chef and staff at Roost for providing such a wonderul dining experience!

Roost is located at:
1972 Fairview Street
Houston, TX 77019
p: 713-523-7667

Hours of Operation:
Mon-Thurs 4pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 4pm-11pm
Reservations Required for Parties of 6 or more

Eat Happy Y'all!!!
吃得开心!!!
Hank

Roost on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

Eric said...

Oxheart opens its reservation books for the following month on the first day of the month. On Jan 1, they'll start accepting February reservations. By Jan 2 or 3, all of them will be gone. That's what happens in a nationally-acclaimed 30 seat restaurant that's open 5 days a week.

If you want to try Oxheart, and you really, really should, in my opinion, set a reminder for yourself on Jan 1 and book a table on their website. Or follow them on Twitter and see when they'll take phone reservations for a seat at the counter, which is a fun way to watch the kitchen work on each course.

Professor Hank said...

Eric:

Noted and I do appreciate your providing the information to me.

Hank