Last Thursday was a major Houston Restaurant Week day for me. I had lunch at Haven, and dinner at Adalucia before seeing Cyndi Lauper. Great day and a great evening. Haven is located in a typically ill-fated for eateries area, on Algerian Way, behind the fish/aquarium store that used to be Gator's, Pico's and heaven only knows how many other places - I have certainly forgotten them all. If yesterday's visit is any indication, Haven is here to stay, or at least remain in profitable business as long as the economy supports dining out. Whilst rambling about what a foodie is or isn't and what I think I think I am doing here - I mentioned making choices, rather careful ones, when deciding how to price out the new additions to my fat cells. I had never been to Haven, but an occasional dining companion of mine mentioned how great the place is. Raved, really. Well, that sparks me to visit and I carefully chose a business lunch there. My customer, also a friend and I each ordered from the HRW menu, which was conveniently attached to the front of the menu so as to encourage patrons to participate. As an aside, this is refreshing and impressive - you'll see why later. I had shrimp corn dogs with a shot of lemonade and the crab cake while my friend chose to have the salad and beef tenderloin.
The shrimp corn dogs were fresh, hot and the batter was a light, fluffy "cornbread" that was perfectly crisp outside and pillowy inside, there were three to an order over a drizzle of tabasco remoulade. The shot of lemonade was perfect, ice cold and tartly refreshing. The salad was made with baby arugula, fresh peach, candied pecans and had a goat cheese crostini on the side. The description I got was, "That was absolutely delicious and the peach was perfect". My "crab cake" was not really a cake, not like you would think. This creation has no breading or filler, that I could discern. It was something a few levels above a crab cake that you might find on a typical seafood menu. The squash blossom puree underneath and charred corn relish on top were perfect sweet/crunchy compliments to the delicate jumbo lump crab which was bound by a light remoulade-type sauce. My friend had the beef tenderloin in a red wine glace with summer squash gratin. I tried a bite of each, the beef was ordered medium rare and was perfectly cooked and fork tender, the glace was not overbearing and took the flaver of the meat up a notch. The summer squash gratin came out crispy on the edges, slightly buttery and I will dream of it (and try to copy it at home). We each ordered a peach tart and shared some ambrosia for dessert. The tarts were lovely with a crisp, slighly sugared crust filled with warm but not overcooked peaches. The ambrosia had figs! I love fresh figs, and they mingled very well with an assortment of fresh fruits that were lightly bound with a lemon curd. The curd offered a touch of brightness and silk to the overall affect. I highly recommend you make it a point to dine at Haven, it was delightful and the HRW menu was a great bargain, my meal was $6 less than it would have been straight off the menu and they donated $3 to the Houston Food Bank! Plus, they are very green and the ambrosia dish sat on a recycled piece of menu! I bet they do not have a single polystyrene clam shell in the kitchen, either. Just saying.
My Thursday evening consisted of dinner at Andalucia prior to the Cyndi Lauper concert. Andalucia was quite good, notably the Moroccan Meatballs and the Oxtails were excellent. The HRW dinner menu? Had I ordered the most expensive items, they totalled $21 on the menu, plus dessert (I guess +/- $6) which brought the total to approximately $27 while paying $35 for HRW, which leaves $3 unaccounted for. Not such a great deal, but, the food was very good. Our wine bottle sat empty for some time on the table, but, in all fairness, the place was packed with Cyndi fans and seensters. Which brings up an annoyance, only one toilet in the ladie's was working - not a good thing, nor was the suggestion that we go next door to use thier sister restaurants facilities.
Cyndi Lauper was as great as ever in concert and I purchased a signed copy of her new blues cd for ten bucks! Bargain! However, I read the HoustonPress review, which was fantastic by the by, and learned that no matter how "cool" I think I am on occasion, we were just four more women in an open casting call for Cougar Town. Dang, I'm old...