brunchandconversat1's Recent Reviews
Potente and Osso & Kristalla are the newest additions to the downtown dining scene. They come to us from Astros team owner Jim Crane who looks to help guests create memorable moments with family through dining. The restaurants, named after Crane's children, are located at the ground floor of the new luxury apartments a short walk from Minute Maid park.
The Houston Food Blogger Collective was invited to have an inside peak into these two beautiful restaurants. Our dining experience took place at Osso & Kristalla, which is more on the casual trattoria side. The trattoria features an open kitchen, allowing guests to get a peak of the kitchen action. As you walk through both locations, you'll most likely notice their ceramic tile and patterned walls. From their cubic, to brown, grey and black tiles to the patterned walls in both restaurants. Either way, as you move from casual Osso & Kristilla to sophisticated Potente, you'll feel the mood and ambiance change.
Margherita Pizza: Roma Tomato sauce, Buffalo Mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, oregano and basil. THE BEST MARGHERITA I HAVE EVER HAD! The dough is perfection and it has just the right amount of cheese and sauce.
Executive Chef Michael Parker and Chef de cuisine Micah Rideout, treated us to a night we won't forget. Serving dishes from their Olive and anchovy croissants(on the same addiction level as Chips & Salsa), to their iceberg lettuce topped with bacon, to Chicken skewers, steak with purple kale and house-made pizzas. And let's not forget the bar staff, who treated us to deliciously smooth frozen negroni, perfect for these hot winter days and their " Dante's Inferno" cocktail demonstration.
Dante's Inferno: Great combination of spicy and sweet, not for the faint-hearted.
Osso& Kristalla is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Potente opens everyday after 5pm. My dining style leans more to the Osso & Kristilla trattoria, so I cannot wait to come back for stuffed croissants, pizza, dessert and a some nice cocktails.
French restaurant Cafe Azur debuted their brunch menu early this month, and I along with some of my fellow bloggers and media folks had the opportunity to experience french cuisine in the heart of Montrose.
Cafe Azur opened a few months ago in what used to be Brasserie Max & Julie, neighboring Pax-Americana. French and Brazilian duo Sidney and Maria Degaine opened Cafe Azur to bring the French Riviera to Houston. Cafe Azur is decorated with a coastal influence, and you'll feel like you've left Houston as soon as you set foot on their front terrace.
The front terrace and upstairs patio floors are covered with artificial grass which compliments the patio umbrellas and greenery surrounding this restaurant. As soon as you enter, you'll immediately feel taken away to some coastal island. The indoor decorations feature all white walls, with turquoise accents here and there. One of my favorite things about restaurants is the experience, it's not only about the food. I value the story told the minute I walk through the doors, from the decor, to the choice of music, to the menu and staff; I value all those things.
We were invited to sit at a family style table, where we would all chat and get to know one another as we share our love for food. Anyway, after weighing my options I ordered their "Ox Cheek." It's slow cooked, with a dauble style sauce, topped with potato foam, *two perfect eggs, parmesan, and truffle oil. (*Disclaimer from the above photo, it wasn't until I was midway into my meal that I realized there were no eggs). Luckily, the dish tasted perfect without them! But let's take a moment to talk about Potato foam, what!? I know, I'd never heard of it either, but it was so good. Potato foam consists of potatoes, milk, water, butter and salt pureed finely to create a smooth foam which is called potato foam. Wow. the things you learn!
You thought we were done huh? I had seen Crepes Suzette on the menu and screamed out of excitement when it was decided that we would have it for dessert. I had never had Crepes Suzette before, but could only imagine the flavors. Crepes Suzette is a french dessert made with crepes served in a caramelized sugar, orange, and Grand Marnier sauce, and topped with orange zest. The dessert at Cafe Azur was served with vanilla ice cream and it is to die for. I will be going back and getting it every chance I get!
Prior to visiting, I had asked a couple of foodies food recommendations. Pok Pok was one of the restaurants that came up. One the evening of our first day, our job responsibilities landed us in the neighborhood where the restaurant is. For starters, don't come expecting this to be a fancy looking restaurant but do expect the food to be good. Pok Pok is a Thai restaurant bringing all the flavors and creativity of Southeast Asia to America, focusing mainly on the flavors of North & Northeast Thailand. We were served their Pandan flower infused water(which actually tastes like tortillas and had me confused.lol). I ordered their " Cha Ca 'La Vong'", their take on a Vietnamese restaurant's catfish dish marinated in turmeric and sour rice. The dish was surprisingly delicious! I also had a taste of their Vietnamese fish-sauce wings and they were fab!
A few weeks ago,I was invited to dine at The Cheesecake Factory at the Galleria. The crazy things is that in my 16 years of living in Houston; I had never dined there, except for that time when a coworker and I decided to get Cheesecake.
We arrived like the newbies that we were, and quickly realized the restaurant was upstairs. The Cheesecake Factory has this old school luxury styled environment, with incandescent lighting perfect for those dates nights with your honey. On our walk to our table, all I could hear was the lovely Cheesecake calling my name.
Upon getting situated in our seats, I looked around and noticed we were surrounded by either couples, families or friends all here to share a meal of celebration. I usually view this type of restaurant as a generic(you can't go wrong) place to take anyone for a meal. Once at our table, we were presented with what is almost like a novel(I'm exaggerating), their menu can be overwhelming if you're like me. Luckily our lovely waitress, Ana, was here with recommendations.
We started with some appetizers and drinks, ordering their egg roll sampler. It consists of four rolls; Tex-Mex, Avocado, Crispy Cuban and Firecracker Salmon which all come different dipping sauces. I'll tell you right now, these were the most creative rolls I've seen. Mainly because they all tasted perfect. You'll notice, they have two menus; a regular one and a "skinilicious" one.
The skinilicious menu has options with less calories than the regular menu. I ordered the grilled steak medallions on the skinilicious menu. They came served atop mashed potatoes, surrounded by chopped cherry tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms and asparagus. This was a well portioned, filling meal.
To end the evening celebration, we started with or should I say parted with 4 cheesecakes above. The Tiramisu, Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch, Toasted Marshmallow S'mores and their Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake that's only available this season with 25 cents from every purchase donated to Feeding America, the nation's largest organization fighting hunger. We couldn't finish the cheesecake, but my favorite had to be the Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch, which is topped with hazelnut crunch and nutella- SO GOOD!
Shake Shack fans rejoice, the east coast burger joint has found a new city to call home...Well, more like another home. Shake Shack started as a hot dog cart in New York's Madison Square, and soon opened its first location due to popular demand. More than a couple hotdogs, burgers, custards and shakes later; Shake Shack became one of the most popular burger joints. Now, starting Friday you can "shake yo tail feather" on down to Shake Shack!
Their newest spot is located at the Galleria Mall, between Cheesecake Factory and Peli Peli; you surely won't miss it with their live green wall outside. I'll be honest, I'd never had Shake Shack prior to this experience but I knew I was in for a treat! I invited my "Shack lovin' co-worker to come to their "family & friends" preview on Wednesday. Upon arriving, we were given the option of 3 different treats to taste.
I opted for their chicken sandwich with a side of cheese fries and a caramel shake. The chicken sandwich reminded me of another lovely chicken sandwich that we all like to love(Chic Fil A). Their chicken, which is cut and battered daily was crunchier with the addition ingredients on top making it quite tasty. I had recently eaten a Chic Fil A sandwich, so I immediately noticed the differences. Juicier, crunchier, and has lettuce, pickles and buttermilk herb mayo to make you drop to the floor. Their fries though on the other hand, I feel need work, very blah!
In conclusion, I'll say that I'm still #TeamHopdoddy but this chicken will have me coming back for more. If their food doesn't draw you in, you'll be drawn to their story and hearing that they source 100% all natural meats, non-GMO, antibiotic & growth hormone free ingredients. Also, if you have a dog they'll also be in for a treat!