Traveling for work doesn't bother me too much. Hotel rooms are like mini decorating projects to be tackled anew in each city; exploring foreign cities - just curious peaks into the lives of a different set of people. This trip I am anxious to get home to a new interest but Houston defied my expectations - especially when it came to food (pan to me being torn between my meal and texting the new guy under the table).
Did you know Houston is the 3rd largest city in terms of population in the US? (im not sure how it couldn't be considering the sheer size of this place... there are TWO beltways! One inside the other!). Another fun fact about Houston - there are no zoning laws, which means that near my hotel (a nice one) you can see Neiman Marcus, Saks, two (yes two) starbucks and an adult video store called "HOT ZONE" complete with neon lights. It is perfectly normal here to see a sleezy looking "gentleman's club" next to Fogo de Chow and the Palm.
Well, I am traveling with my boss so I have spent exactly $0 so far (fantastic boss). For whatever reason he has left all of the logistics to me ... including picking a restaurant the other night. Suggestions solicited and googled and we landed at Mark's American cuisine. When you talk to Houstonians say its the one in an old church. They'll know.
I should start out by saying that this place will forever hold significance to me as the first place I have ever tried Kobe beef. They were offering Japanese kobe beef for an absurd price... the special sounded fabulous right up until he said the price and my heart fell (should have known better...) but my boss - out of nowhere - ordered a few ounces as an appetizer for the table. MMMMM try this NOW is all i can say. Make up a reason to celebrate and splurge because it is worth it.
We then proceeded to have a feast. I had a local tomato and mozzarella salad with balsamic reduction dressing, a tenderloin with porcini mushrooms and tomato basil risotto that was so flavorful I was literally taken aback. Talk about the freshest ingredients you can find. Despite being stuffed, desert came and somehow a vanilla bean creme brulee appeared in front of me. I wish it had a more crusty top but the flavor can't be argued with. Everything was just scrumptious (love this word).
The decor is actually lacking... the old church thing is very cool - see the vaulted ceiling. But they have FAKE flowers. Who does this to a restaurant where dropping over $500 on dinner isn't a stretch? The one very cool thing is that the wine "cellar" is actually up where you would normally see organ pipes. This is my type of sanctuary.