Houston Restaurant Weeks Review: A Mixed Bag at Hearsay Gastro Lounge

Thursday, August 8, 2013
I wanted so badly to like Downtown's Hearsay Gastro Lounge. Under any other circumstances, I'm sure I would have loved Hearsay. But stuff happens, and when I went there the other night with my friend Meredith, it was just one sidestep after another.

Before I delve into our dinner, though, I have to clear the air on something. In a previous blog post, I claimed that Meredith is a "real adult." She is convinced I may have taken some artistic liberties with that statement. So let me come clean here: Meredith is not a real adult. She likes bedazzled things and The Emporer's New Groove and taking pictures with chopsticks in her teeth to make her look like a walrus. I was blinded by her newly purchased home, but I stand corrected: She is no real adult!

So, Hearsay.

Ugh, I reeeaaallly hate writing bad reviews - I want to LOVE everywhere and everything! - but I've got to be honest here. The service was lacking. However, if there are any two people you'd want the service to be not great on, it's Meredith and me. We both waited tables in restaurants for several years, so we totally get it. Stuff happens. People are only human: It gets busy. Your boyfriend breaks up with you right before work. The cook loses your order. You just found out your roommate accidentally deleted this week's episode of "Naked and Afraid," that you haven't watched yet (Um no, that's never happened to me, why do you ask…?). We totally get it. Unfortunately, in this scenario, we had a play to catch so we couldn't linger for hours, keeping our fingers crossed for food to finally come.

So here's a play-by-play of what happened (Keep in mind, our show was starting a few blocks away, at 8:00):
  • We get there at 6:00 on the dot to make our reservation and are seated immediately upstairs. The inside of the place is seriously cool. It looks like a converted old loft building or something. There's exposed brick everywhere (which is bliss for me), cool hanging light bulbs, and funky mirrors on the wall. I'm stoked.
  • 10 minutes go by. Someone brings us waters. I look around. The place isn't empty, but it's definitely not packed, especially for a Saturday night.
  • 10 more minutes go by. Our server comes to our table. She takes our drink orders and full food orders since we are using their Houston Restaurant Weeks menu, which is $35 for a three course meal. Not bad! Meredith orders the Stuffed Mushrooms for her appetizer, Quail for her entree, and Sticky Toffee for dessert. I am unfortunately stupidly allergic to shellfish, and I wanted the Stuffed Mushrooms, but they are stuffed with (you guessed it) shellfish. Not anyone's fault but my funny body's, so I get the Crispy Calamari to start (which my doctor says I'm also not supposed to have because sometimes squid are friends with shrimp, but I decide to take a walk on the wild side this particular evening). Then I order the Lamb Chop Pops (say that ten times fast) for my entree and Domino Cake for dessert. And wine (duh).
  • 20 minutes or so roll by, and we get our apps. My calamari is pretty standard, but definitely good. Nice and crispy, and not soggy at all. The aoili that comes with it is also very tasty. Meredith reports that she likes her stuffed mushrooms, but the calamari is better. I suspect, however, that she's just being thoughtful and may be fudging a bit to make me feel better about the fact that I would puff up like a blowfish if I ate it...
Stuffed Mushrooms
  • 7:15 rolls around. No sign of any entree. Meredith's iced tea has also been sadly empty for some time. The table of six next to us who had ordered after we did have all finished their entrees at this point. Our server walks up and puts down our dessert spoons. We look at her confused, and she says, "You did get your entrees, right?" Whoops.
  • The manager comes up and tells us there was a mix-up in the kitchen, and she is very sorry. She will get our next round of drinks on the house. Our food would be right out. Meredith orders a cocktail, and I get another glass of wine.
Crispy Calamari
  • 10 minutes go by. Still no food. I got my second glass of wine right away, but Meredith is just now getting her cocktail. The manager comes up and tells us the entire meal will be comped.
  • 7:35 - we finally get our food. And it is VERY good. My Lamb Chop Pops are cooked beautifully and are incredibly tender. The mint jelly that comes with it is divine. It also comes with spinach sauteed in (I believe) butter and garlic, as well as a side of roasted potatoes, which are perfect. Meredith's quail is also very good. Unfortunately, we have to inhale all of it very quickly and hardly get to enjoy it. Our server asks us if we still want our dessert, and we tell her if it's ready now, we would like it, but we have to leave very soon.
  • 7:45 - no sign of dessert, but we have to go. As we're getting up to leave our server comes by with the desserts. I find myself apologizing profusely that we won't be able to eat it. On the way out, we thank the manager, tell her stuff happens, we totally get it. She gives us her card, and asks us to call her ahead of time the next time we come back.
  •  7:58 - We get to the theater, sweating and out of breath, laughing at how ridiculous the whole dinner was.
So, it definitely was a mixed bag. I loved the interior of the restaurant. The food was really delicious. The manager handled everything perfectly and bent over backwards for us even though we really didn't complain (In fact, I was apologizing!). We just had to be somewhere else at a certain time.

We simply seemed to have been The Forgotten Table at Hearsay Gastro Lounge this past Saturday night.

Would I recommend it? That is a tentative maybe. After telling my parents the story we found out that while they really like it there, one of their friends had a similar experience as us. Would I go back? I might, but probably not anytime soon.

And even though we likely would have gotten quicker service if we'd thrown a fit, I still believe in being kind, especially having been in that position myself. Having a good attitude goes much longer because although we missed out on dessert, we were laughing about it the rest of the night.

Lamp Chop Pops
So thank you Hearsay for handling the situation with poise, and for giving two girls from Humble who go way back another funny "Remember That Time When" memory to add to our list.


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