Feast – Houston, a remarkable restaurant
Last night Amy and I were going out to dinner and wanted to try some place we had never been. My first choice was only open until 5 on Sundays and I could not remember the name of my second choice (hey, the 80’s were pretty rough on some of us). Amy started looking at reviews online, hoping she could find the name of the place that I could not remember, when she came upon a review of a place called “Feast.”
It was not the name we were looking for, but it was one of the coolest restaurant names that I have ever heard, so my interest was piqued. It turns out that they serve rustic European food, so I was even more interested. Then I saw the menu for the previous night which finished with “whole hog’s head for 2.” Despite being informed that 1 part of my 2 would most certainly not be sharing a hog’s head with me, I was sold on giving this place a try.
Feast is located in what appears to be an old house near Downtown. Here is what they say about their restaurant:
‘Feast’ is the new restaurant run by English restaurateurs Richard Knight and James Silk, alongside James’ wife Meagan. ‘Feast’ is about bringing a traditional and relaxed European approach to dining to Downtown Houston. We offer simple, honest, rustic cuisine in a relaxed, homely environment. Our emphasis is on quality, local, seasonal ingredients prepared with passion and imagination.
Our desire is to summon the spirit of a family meal shared around the kitchen table of an old-fashioned European family farm…
I can testify that all of the above statements and claims are true. This is a remarkable restaurant and is easily on my all-time Top 10 list of dining experiences.
We were warmly greeted as we entered Feast, and it felt like we were walking into someone’s very welcoming home. Sitting next to the hearth of a, thankfully, unlit fireplace…it had a nice array of candles instead…we were handed the evening’s menu and wine list. I hoped that neither our server or my wife saw me drool on the menu while I perused the type of menu that I have always wanted to see, but feared that I never would. You can see an example on their web site.
Regretfully, we passed on the appetizers and ordered entrees that we hoped would both be good matches for the bottle of wine we ordered. Amy chose braised ox tails with mashed potatoes and carrot, while I went for the lamb shanks, roasted potatoes, and kale with anchovies. The wine was a Domaine de L’Echevin 2005 Côtes du Rhône Villages – Saint Maurice. It was very good with both dinners.
Amy’s ox tails were excellent, as were her sides. My lamb shanks were absolutely perfect, as were the potatoes. The kale took a little getting used to, but once I warmed up to it I found it fantastic as well. The salty anchovies seemed to temper the bitterness of the kale and brought out a natural sweetness in the vegetable that I had never noticed that it possessed. In fact, that seemed to sum up both of our meals.
Initially, it seemed that, while perfectly cooked, the food might have been a touch under-seasoned. That first impression was quickly dispelled as I kept eating. The food was perfectly cooked to bring out the inate flavors. The ox tails were bold and exemplified the flavor of beef in all of its simple glory. The lamb shanks melted in my mouth and were cooked to bring out the ever so slightly gamey sweetness that makes lamb so irresistable to me. When followed by a sip of the wine it was all I could to keep my eyes from rolling back in my head as orgasmic moans escaped my lips. Luckily for my fellow diners I managed to control myself. Okay, maybe a few oinks and grunts may have gotten out, but I did my best to keep them to myself.
The potatoes with both of our meals were perfectly executed versions of homey sides. Amy’s mashed potatoes were creamy, light, but with enough lumps to make you feel like it was Sunday dinner at mom’s house. My roasted potatoes were golden, crispy, and perfectly seasoned on the outside, while tender and moist on the inside. In other words, utterly perfect.
Despite being stuffed to the gills, I couldn’t resist a peek at the dessert list. I had no intention of actually ordering anything, but a ginger pear crumble with custard was more than I could resist. It came to the table, piping hot, along with a tumbler of Vinhos Barbeito Sercial Madeira. It was a wonderful finish to an unbelievably good meal.
Food this well prepared can only be created by chefs that possess world class skills combined with a love and passion for food and their patrons. The three proprietors of Feast have an abundance of those ingredients. One of them even worked extensively with Fergus Henderson at St. John, and it shows. Houston may not be known for this type of food, but in a city with so many great restaurants, this one stands out as one of the best.
I will be back for that hog’s head, even if I have to eat it myself. Feast is an aptly named establishment. Go there.