Thursday, July 2, 2015

Urban Eats

Well hello there, July!

AKA My Birth Month, AKA I TURN   T H I R T Y   IN TWENTY DAYSSSAHHHH!!!!

You wouldn't think it but I'm cool as a cucumber.

During The Final Countdown of my days leading up to the big 3-0, I managed to experience my favorite meal so far of 2015, and it was absolutely glorious. My mom met me at the new(ish) Washington Ave spot, Urban Eats for lunch the other day. And with a motto like, "feast + drink + love," I should have known I would adore it.

We ventured upstairs to the full service bistro, and it was insanely packed. I think we grabbed the last free table before there was a wait. In terms of the environment, it's super cool - The walls are adorned with paintings from local artists, making the brightly-colored, brick-accented interior even more hip and exciting.

We decided to go splitzies and just share a bunch of stuff to get the most out of our experience. Also we were starving because my mom is training for the NYC Marathon and had run something like 37 miles that morning, while I...was famished after my walk from the valet stand to my seat.

First up was the baked goat cheese crostini & toasted pine nuts salad.

This salad was incredible. Sweet golden currants contrasted beautifully against plump, ripe, red pear tomatoes, and crunchy, toasted pine nuts. The herbed, silky goat cheese crostini gave the crisp, light salad underneath just the right touch of naughtiness. And the rosemary balsamic served with the salad was tart, full, and velvety.

But I have to say we felt sorry for this salad. If I had only ordered one thing that day at Urban Eats, and it had been this salad, I would have been completely blown away and satisfied. But for as amazing as this salad was, it didn't stand a chance against the other three Dishes of Love that graced us with their presence, and it was relatively neglected.

I have no idea which dish was my favorite, and I guess I'll just have to go back and sample them again to put a proper ranking in my head (which is necessary?). This little beauty above is the eggplant Napoleon. Thinly sliced eggplant crusted with herbed bread crumbs is layered with ricotta, mozzarella, and sharp provolone, and it is topped with their house-made marinara and parmesan cheese.

I couldn't even.

This cute little portion was the perfect size for two hungry gals. The tart marinara went wonderfully with the oozing beautiful cheeses and fragrantly herbed eggplant, and the result was one of the most playful eggplant parmesan-esque dishes I've had. It certainly was rich and indulgent, but split between the two of us it was the perfect amount of decadence.

Okay, next on the docket - Urban Eats has an entire section of the menu dedicated to French fries, so...

You will eat these, and you will die, and you will be happy, and you will not even be bitter about the fact that you didn't catch this year's season finale of The Bachelorette (just me??) after your death-by-amazing-fries.

We ordered the Napa black & blue pommes frites, which are some of the fanciest French fries on God's green earth. Lightly tossed with blue cheese crumbles, truffle oil, black pepper, and fresh sage, these delicate, aromatic carbs could should be served on a silver platter.

I couldn't. stop. eating them.

They were served with a side of red wine vinegar and pepper jam dipping sauce, but I thought they were better left alone. Why try to perfect perfection? And that's exactly what these fries are: perfection. The strong flavors of the blue cheese, truffle oil, and sage did not compete with one another, as they easily could. Instead the exact right amount of ingredients was applied, and the triplet of  bold flavors came together in an absolutely delightful way.

Last up on the Ogonosky Women's Tasting Menu of the Day was the skillet seared cauliflower. Seasoned with sea salt and combined with caramel-y shallots, toasted pine nuts, and golden currants, this dish was outstanding. The sweetness from the shallots and currants beautifully accented the earthy cauliflower. The crunch from the toasted pine nuts was just an added bonus. Once again, another phenomenal dish that didn't stand a chance with the likes of us.

Now do you see why we felt sad for the salad?

Urban Eats is outstanding. It lives up to the hype. I cannot recommend it enough. Please go! And try many things! Because they're all awesome! And not only is the food great, the restaurant is intent on supporting the Houston arts scene by featuring works by local artists, which is freaking great. Oh, and the service? Awesome. My mother would kill me if I didn't mention how great our server David was!

30 is when your metabolism starts to speed up, right?

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy Hour at Max's Wine Dive

Where did June go? Are we already 1/3 of the way through summer?

#DeepQuestions, by Kim Ogonosky.

I don't know about you guys, but life has been so busy lately! Last weekend Jon and I finally had an evening where we cooked dinner (aka, bought pre-made meals from Whole Foods) and stayed in for the evening (aka, watched the original Jurassic Park since we have been obsessing over the new one lately). And I was like, dude I know I've seen you recently, but this is the first do-nothing night we've had in forever!

Despite the packed schedule, I've managed to squeeze in some quality friend time, like recently when I met up with my friend Kelly at Max's Wine Dive, who I literally hadn't seen in TWELVE YEARS. <~~Nothing makes you feel old like that statement, #ThisIsThirty.

I had been wanting to try Max's on Washington since it opened, so this visit was long overdue. Kelly was awesome enough to make the trek out from Northeast Houston to meet me. She ecstatically recommended their signature dish, the fried chicken, which I was all, "Oops, btw I'm a vegetarian now? Let's do our best not to wait another 12 years to see each other again? Pinky promise?" Fortunately there still seemed to be plenty of items for me to choose from, and hello discounted Happy Hour prosecco.

I'm going to get this first one out of the way here. I ordered a side of the collard greens, and...I couldn't eat them. If you're familiar with my blog, you'll know that not being able to eat a dish is a completely rare situation for me. I'm no collard greens expert, but these tasted like they came right out of a can. You know how canned spinach tastes? Imagine that, but with collard greens, and that's what these were. Slimy, incredibly salty, and...canned-tasting. Unfortunately I have nothing good to say about this side. I'm hoping it was a fluke.

I also ordered the Max 'n cheese. A cavatappi pasta in a truffle cream sauce with provolone, Gruy√®re and Parmigiano Reggiano seemed like a good choice to me, but it didn't blow me away. The high points of this dish were the cavatappi pasta, which was a fun departure from your standard elbow mac, penne, or shells, as well as the super creamy sauce, and subtle dusting of crunchy breadcrumbs on top. But even though the dish was composed of a beautiful duo of cheeses and truffle cream sauce, it was pretty bland (a stark contrast from the strident collard greens). There is a fine dance that chefs play when it comes to the use of truffle in dishes, I totally get it - A dash too much can absolutely ruin something. But with this dish I couldn't even tell it was there. I missed my beloved truffle that evening.

Fortunately, there was a saving grace from the barely edible collard greens and unexciting Max 'n cheese.

The fried green tomatoes.

Lordy, these were good! The breading was so light, and it had an almost wafer-like crunch. The sauce underneath the juicy green tomatoes eased their acidity and offered a nice, delightful punch to the taste. THIS dish makes Max's Wine Dive live up to it's reputation of having classy, fun, southern-inspired fare. These might be my favorite fried green tomatoes ever. I gobbled them right up!

While I experienced a mixed bag with the food I ordered, it is worth noting that Kelly did once again love her fried chicken, as I have often heard from others. It seems that Max's needs to make some adjustments to its supporting role dishes to offer up more consistency. The overall environment of Max's is certainly welcoming - trendy, vibrant, and cozy, the place was packed that night. The service was also great, and the setting was really nice for reconnecting with a sweet friend from a million years ago. If you go I recommend you make a reservation, plan on using valet (as there was no other option that night), bypass the collard greens, and order the fried green tomatoes.

And, um, wine of course.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Dinner at Revival Market

Have you guys seen Jurassic World yet?

Jon and I saw it this week, and I seriously loved it. I mean, really loved it. Don't go off of what I say though because I historically, admittedly, have terrible taste in movies.

But but BUT it has dinosaurs! And Chris Pratt! And the original Jurassic Park theme song! I mean, what's not to love?

So while I'll own up to the fact that I *occasionally* have bad taste in movies, I like to think that I have pretty good taste in food.

I recently met up with my friends Kate and Jessica one day after work at Revival Market for dinner prior to seeing a show put on by the Stark Naked Theatre Company (which, theatre-lovers, I definitely recommend seeing a show there. And I went to school for theatre once upon a time, so hopefully I have decent taste in it?).

Shockingly, this devout Coltivare Enthusiast had never been to Revival Market before!

(I KNOW).

So I was pumped to try out their new dinner menu!

(which, let's be honest, it was going to be new to me regardless of whether it began a month ago or ten years ago.)

To start we ordered the hummus, served with fluffy fresh bread and pickled sour carrots.

Oh Y'ALL.

The hummus was delightful and wonderfully textured with peanuts. On its own it was outstanding, but paired with the carrots it was pure magic. I'm usually a carb on carb on carb on carb on carb kind of gal, so I expected to sop it all up with the bread. However, the pickled carrots were tart, earthy, and wonderfully acidic in all the right ways. I've never loved dipping a raw vegetable in hummus so much. The contrast was explosively fantastic.

Oh and you see the glass of wine up there? Revival Market is BYOB, at least for now, my lovers.

Okay, if we are being honest with each other here, as a herbosaurus (get it, LIKE THE DINOSAURS?) I have to say there weren't a whole lot of veg options for me. But this is relative because the menu is small, and Revival Market is typically known for it's thoughtfully crafted meat offerings. Since my options were a little limited, we got creative, aka ordered dessert for an appetizer (which is a cheese plate, so it wasn't too wild and crazy of a decision).

While I certainly enjoyed the cheese, particularly the one coated in coffee grounds, the plate as a whole left me wanting more. The accompanying berries, olive, marmalade, etc. didn't particularly floor me, and I would have preferred a larger quantity of cheese. This is, however, technically a dessert, so the portion size is understandable. And there is an appetizer-sounding cured plate on the menu, but it's basically a bunch of meats with cucumber and ricotta. I would love to see a larger portioned cheese plate as an appetizer, as I know coming from these folks it would be outstanding.

But I was able to get a side of local lettuces?

These were pretty unremarkable. The menu gives full disclosure in its description that what you're getting is lettuce topped with lemon and olive oil, but a more exciting vegetarian salad would have been nice to see.

Because I ordered the summer squash salad, which I thought was vegetarian, but I (stupidly) missed the word HAM in the description.

The effects of BYOB on the brain, y'all.

Kate and Jessica seemed to enjoy this beautiful, vibrant salad. Kate - who is also a devout Coltivare Enthusiast - did say though that she thought the ham did not really add anything to it, flavor-wise.

Okay, but here's where things take a turn for the awesome.

If you want to have a blow-your-mind broccoli experience (which of course you do), you've got to try their broccoli. Delicately charred and topped with what I can only describe as a fresh, beautiful, sweet and sour sauce, every bite was beyond enjoyable and utterly sensational. I seriously was thinking about this dish for days after. And now I'm drooling, #ThanksRevivalMarket.

For dessert we split a slice of buttermilk pie and bread pudding. The nutty, lightly crunchy topping on the thick, cinnamon-y bread pudding gave it almost a coffee cake-like texture/taste. The buttermilk pie was beautiful and creamy, with a wonderfully flaky crust. Of the two, I preferred the bread pudding, while Kate preferred the pie, and Jessica alternated between the two. I thought the pie could use a little more flavor, but I did appreciate how both desserts were not insanely sweet. They were earthy, comforting, and approachable, with just a hint of sweetness!

While I did have some trouble finding veg-friendly options at Revival Market, I totally understand that this is a place that is applauded for its next-level meat dishes. And my experiences with the fresh hummus, unique broccoli, and satisfying bread pudding made the whole visit worthwhile. That, and the good company! And the great service.

And, um, the BYOB. Everyone loves a BYOB.

Even the T-Rex.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On the Road Again: Taco Tuesday: Velvet Taco in Fort Worth

Velvet Taco opened in Houston yesterday, so it's totally appropriate that today I post about my experience there!

...at the Fort Worth location.

When I went to Fort Worth earlier this month for my sister Emily's birthday, she took all of us out to Velvet Taco for lunch. And I loved it so much, imagine my delight when I was informed that we'd be getting one here in H-Town a mere few weeks down the road!

Full disclosure for what I'm about to say: I absolutely adore Austin. But when I think of the Austin food scene, all that really stands out in my mind is "funky taco restaurants." So when my funky taco-lovin', former Austinite, UT grad sister suggested a funky taco restaurant in Fort Worth it came as no surprise to me. What DID come as a surprise to me was how much more I liked this funky taco restaurant than any of the ones I'd been to in Austin. Don't get me wrong, I still visit Torchy's pretty regularly, but this place?

Lord save my weak taco soul.

It's a burden I must bear.

For my meal I ordered the Israeli couscous taco. A lettuce wrap is filled with couscous, roasted portobello, pickled fresnos, micro greens, and grilled halumi cheese, and it's topped off with a mint pesto and cucumber dill yogurt.

Y'ALL DON'T EVEN KNOW.

And look I'm with you - At first I was like, lettuce wrap? Really? I could have changed it to a flour tortilla, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and go with the lettuce, as the menu suggests, and I was not disappointed. The multitude of flavors and textures in this taco were outstanding. The mint pesto was light and refreshing, and it playfully balanced with the cool, tangy cucumber dill yogurt and spicy pickled fresnos. What really put me over the edge was the grilled halumi cheese though. The chewy, earthy, smokey grilled cheese was robust and almost meaty. I adored it.

True to Jon form, he ordered the Texas burger taco, pictured right. He liked it.

I also ordered a side of their rotisserie "elote-style" Mexican corn. And just look at it!

This might be the greatest corn dish I've ever had. Creamy, cheesy, and tangy with a little kick, it felt like an absolute indulgence.

And know what else was an absolute indulgence?

THESE ROASTED POTATOES.

My sister kept going on and on about their potatoes, so Jon ordered a side, and I maybe ate 90% of them? (sorry Jon)

Yowzers, these were phenomenal. The herby, crispy potatoes are topped with a smooth, lemon garlic cream. They are completely insane. When I told Jon Velvet Taco was opening in Houston this week, his response was "We need to go back and get those potatoes immediately."

So if you're in Fort Worth, and you're needing a funky taco fix that will reset the bar for what you envision as the creme de la creme of funky taco joints, look no further than Velvet Taco. But if you're not in Fort Worth, and you're needing a funky taco fix that will reset the bar for what you envision as the creme de la creme of funky taco joints, just give the one here in Houston a whirl! And please report back to me and tell me what you think!

:: funky taco dance ::

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Webisode 1: Ragu & Pesto

Today I am excited to share that Adventures in a New(ish) City is starting a monthly(ish) webisode series, featuring this nerd!

You may have seen the sneak peak on my Instagram account last month, and now the first episode is finally ready for viewing. You can catch all of my webisodes on the Adventures in a New(ish) City YouTube page, and I will also be sharing them here on the blog as I post them.

My first webisode is about the delightful Italian restaurant Ragu & Pesto. I first learned about this place at the 2015 Houston Press Menu of Menus Extravaganza, and I was instantly hooked. Not only is the food amazing, the folks at Ragu & Pesto are welcoming and lovely. AND, if after watching the webisode you feel compelled to dine at Ragu & Pesto (which, let's be honest, you will because it's awesome), You will receive 15% off your bill if you tell them Kim from Adventures in a New(ish) City sent you!

So I invite you to sit back, relax, and spend five minutes watching my goofy self eat the incredible food at Ragu & Pesto!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Harry's Restaurant & Cafe

Omm, let me tell you a story about an amazing Omelet.

That...didn't work, did it?

(don't answer that)

A few weekends ago, my sister Emily was in town, so my dad and I took her out to breakfast at Harry's Restaurant & Cafe in Midtown one morning. Harry's is a pretty well-known Houston spot, especially for breakfast, so this visit was a long time coming for me!

The massive, open, no frills interior was bustling with people and staff on that particular day. Even though we were told we would have to wait 30 minutes, we were seated right away!

My father had been before and was enamored with their migas, which he ordered again.

And once again, he saw stars.

Emily ordered the eggs benedict, and she devoured them. I tasted some of her chipotle hollandaise, which had an enjoyable little kick to it.

I went with the Spitiko Greek omelet for my meal, asking for egg whites only, with a side of fresh sliced tomatoes, wheat toast, and sliced avocado.

It was absolutely lovely.

Omelets can often be a disappointment for me. Don't get me wrong, I love them, but when I order one at a restaurant, my reaction generally is one of, "Meh, I could have made one just as good." But, omm, let me tell you, this was not the case here!

(Still no?)

The fluffy omelet was not runny at all, and it was filled with fresh green onions, spinach, tomatoes, and Monterrey cheese. The light Monterrey and plump, juicy veggies were beautifully accented by the tart, zippy feta crumbled atop. And the wonderfully ripe sliced tomatoes were the perfect sidekick. I would order this light, unique, intricate omelet again and again!

And because the table of guys next to me looked like they were having way too much fun with their micheladas, I had to order one!

Truth be told, I actually ordered a bloody mary, but the server clarified that they were micheladas (not a full liquor license perhaps?), so I threw caution to the wind and ordered one! And it was really great. The beer gave the complex bloody(ish) mix a nice earthiness, and the spicy seasoned rim was the perfect garnish. While I have no other michelada to compare it to, it should be noted that, A) I was not at all disappointed that my tomato juice came with beer instead of vodka; and B) I know I'll be ordering this again.

Harry's Restaurant & Cafe offers your standard diner dishes as well as a variety of international additions, and it is anything but your standard diner. The meals are fresh, thoughtfully prepared, and a step above what you would expect. Omm, let it be known that I will be returning soon!

Nailed it.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Vacation Days: Fort Worth, June 2015

By now it's clear that I like to visit Fort Worth. In fact, I really like it. It's mainly because my super awesome little sister Emily lives there. I mean, she could live in a laundry hamper and I'd love it. She could live in Dallas and I'd love it.

That's...not true.

(I'm 76% kidding YOU GUYS.)

What I mean to say though is that Fort Worth is a great town. Last weekend my kid sister turned 23, and she wanted to spend it with her family in Fort Worth! So my mom, dad, Jon, and I all headed up there and joined up with Emily, Emily's boyfriend Danny, and Danny's family for a weekend of fun!

On Friday night we met up at the Flying Saucer for brews and bites. The Fort Worth Flying Saucer has a gorgeous, whimsical patio, and we were able to snag a table there.

On Saturday, we bopped around Fort Worth for a bit, then had an INCREDIBLE lunch at Velvet Taco (separate blog post on that later!).

 World's most adorable sister? Probably.

Photo Credit: Emily
After lunch and requisite birthday shots done by a few of the 21+ aged folks in attendance (gulped to the tune of my mother screeching, "WHY ARE YOU DOING SHOTS?! YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO GET SICK!!") Jon, Emily, Danny, Danny's sister Katie, and I blew up our inner tubes and set out to Slide the City.

A giant slip and slide through a city? World's greatest idea? Probably.

Despite a technical snafu that caused the cancellation of the morning wave, and despite the fact that there wasn't really enough water to slide the whole way down without standing up and running about 7 times, we took part in setting a Guinness World Record, and it was an absolute blast.

Slide the City was part of PantherFest, an outdoor festival with food, drinks, and live music. We stopped by there for a little bit, but didn't stay very long.


Completely wiped out from our day of fun in the sun, Em decided she wanted to chill at home with some delicious takeout sushi from Piranha Killer Sushi, paired with a viewing of "Stepbrothers," #naturally.

Before heading back on Sunday, Jon and I grabbed lunch with Emily and Danny at Terra Mediterranean Grill, where we feasted on a MEDITERRANEAN BUFFET OF MAGIC.

It was a great weekend filled with food, drinks, fun, giant slip 'n slides, and family. I can't wait to go back!

I <3 FW.