Tuesday, October 2, 2012

ROC - Houston's, A Peaceful Sunday Lunch.

Houston's in Irvine is part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group. Technically, it's a chain as there are other locations in the States. With the food and restaurant culture growing, chain restaurants tend to have a negative connotation of simply having food that's easily replicated, processed and just flat out not delicious. Be that as it may, Houston's no where fits that image as there's little doubt that the food is made from scratch judging by the high quality of ingredients on the plate.

I've been here for dinner before and was greatly impressed. Before dining at Houston's for the first time, I was extremely hesitant of trying it out due to their relatively small menu. However, this formula worked as the restaurant can concentrate on fewer types of dishes therefore making their food much more delicious while maintaining the consistency of its quality. One thing that stands out about Houston's is their extremely high commitment to service; the waitstaff is very friendly and accomodating to a customer's needs especially when the prices on the menu are extremely reasonable. Although I personally wished it was slightly rubbed with more herbs, spices and salt before its cooking process, their prime rib is amazing and would definitely consider it a signature item of the restaurants. Also, their appetizers such as their smoked salmon and sides such as their mashed potatoes were very delicous.

As I was bored on a Sunday afternoon as most of the restaurants were closed after 2pm as they have to prepare for dinner service, I was in luck that Houston's was open around that window. As I entered into the restaurant, the decor and environment is classy yet unintimidating. I walked up to the bar and was told dining at the bar is fine as they layed a cloth napkin in front of me. I would always order a Manhattan whenever I would dine at Houston's as their Manhattans are very delicious.

The bartender and servers were very warm and willing to adress a customer's questions about the menu. Unfortunately, the prime rib wasn't available. I then opted for their Cajun-spiced Grilled Trout. Even though trout may not be as expensive as say salmon or that some seafood chefs such as Brian Malarkey on Top Chef Season 3 may not consider trout as a seafood, it's a highly underestimated fish as trout is extremely delicious and readily available to us in the US. In addition, I've ordered the Peruvian Corn and Zucchini as my side. When my food was delivered to me, it looked amazing. I've tried the fish before drizzling the rest with lemon: it tasted very delicious as the fish was cooked perfectly. After applying the lemon juice, the acidity from it along with the flavor of the fish and the Cajun spices all worked together in order to create a harmonious sensation on my tastebuds. My side of Peruvian Corn and Zucchini tasted very delicous as well since I've noticed they were cooked with butter.

Although I'm only in my 20s, I much would rather, compared to the rest of the people in my age group and  if I had to choose only one of the two, end the meal with a top shelf spirit such as Cognac or Single Malt Scotch rather than dessert. After my meal, I've concluded it with a snifter of Remy Martin V.S.O.P. Cognac. With its more of an alcoholic bite compared to the smoother Courvoisier V.S. that was available, it was a great way to end the meal after eating fish.

Houston's is an amazing restaurant in Irvine, albeit a chain. With food made from quality ingredients, a classy yet unintimidating atmostphere, and extremely friendly & attentive waitstaff; it's a great restaurant for all sorts of occasions such as celebrating with close & amazing friends, going out on an exciting first date, or just simply dining alone looking to fill that void in time.

Updated 1/14/2013:

Recently, I came back to Houston's for another lunch but this time, I went back for their famed Roasted Prime Rib.

Guided by the lovely hostess, I sat at the bar and started out with my usual Manhattan. When I looked at the menu, I was glad that their Prime Rib was available at that time (It usually is but there are few times throughout the year when they don't have it).  Immediately I order it but like with last time during lunch, the mashed potatoes weren't available. I then opted for coleslaw on the side while ordering my Prime Rib rare. Very quickly within ten minutes, the simple yet beautiful plate of Prime Rib, Au Jus, Horseradish, and coleslaw was laid out before me. Oh boy, although to most people it looks bloody as hell, it was very delicious especially more for me as I highly enjoy meat when it's cooked rare. It was more seasoned than what I've remembered from the last time I had it. In addition, the au jus and horseradish complemented the prime rib quite well.

After finishing my prime rib while going through my second drink of a Gin & Tonic made with Tanqueray gin, the coleslaw served as a refreshing side while cleansing my palate. At the end of the meal, I opted for a digistif of Remy Martin VSOP Cognac like last time.

If it's your first time coming to Houston's, I highly would recommend getting the prime rib; you won't be disappointed!

Another Update - 1/19/2013

I came back to Houston's for a Saturday Lunch. I was feeling wanting something in the middle of having heavy like Meat & Potatoes vs. something light like Udon. I looked at the menu and after seeing the person who had the Rotisserie Chicken next to me when I last ordered their Prime Rib which looked delicious, I decided to order that for the day.

It's within most foodie's minds, including mine's, that chicken would never be a consideration on a menu that offers much more, that it would be for those that don't have any sort of interest in food whatsoever except only for fuel. However, the Rotisserie Chicken at Houston's was quite the exception. It's a great choice for those that don't feel like something too heavy but still want to consume some heavier protein other than fish. When it was presented right before me, it looked amazing. The (Half) Rotisserie Chicken was coated in an Apricot Glaze & Herbs with gave it its just-the-right-amount sweet component while remaining savory. The chicken was very moist and delicious. Not only wasn't it heavy but the skin gave the chicken the right amount of salty flavor without being overwhelming. On the side, it came with a barley salad with almonds, cherry tomatoes, French radishes, and mint topped with grated cheese (either Feta or Parmesan) which was quite refreshing and complementary with the chicken. I have to say, this was one of the best chicken dishes I've ever had. It also serves as a real contender to their prime rib, especially if you want something not heavy but will give you satisfaction for your taste buds as well.

Link to my other blog, A Concierge for the Fellow Man, for an insight in regards to bringing a date:
Houston's - Irvine, CA: An Extremely Versatle Date Spot

Houston's on Urbanspoon

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