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High end dinner for 1 near downtown

Worldwide Diner Jan 17, 2014 07:00 PM

Will be staying at Hilton Americas for business. I intend to search for great food within a 3 mile radius. It will likely be just me for Fri and Sat evenings. Must be able secure reservation for one or have dining space at bar. I'm coming from DC, where the food scene is decent but not overly exciting. Price not important. The more courses of elaborate and unique food the better (but I hate slow dragging tasting menus where you sit for 3 or 4 hrs.). For example, Uchi seems interesting to me. There's only one Japanese restaurant of that caliber in DC.

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  1. m
    mjust RE: Worldwide Diner Jan 18, 2014 08:11 AM

    Uchi is great and would definitely meet your criteria--highly recommend it. Oxheart has counter seats, but you probably will not be able to get a reservation there (counter seats are also reserved) on short notice unless someone has cancelled at the last minute. Fair warning, for us the tasting menu (7 courses) was an almost 4 hour affair. But they have shorter 4 course menus, as well. The Pass would meet your criteria for elaborate/unique, I think, but I don't know how solo-friendly the dining room is (haven't been myself) or whether you could get a reservation. All are within 3 miles of the hotel.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mjust
      Worldwide Diner RE: mjust Jan 18, 2014 12:24 PM

      Them's top 3 on Alison Cook's top 100. I will pass on Oxheart because they don't accept reservation for 1 online and the length of dinner. Both The Pass and Uchi look fantastic. Question, Uchi a la carte or tasting menu?

      1. re: Worldwide Diner
        mjust RE: Worldwide Diner Jan 18, 2014 12:37 PM

        I don't think you can go wrong with either, though if it were me, I would probably go a la carte. The last time we were there, they also had the option for your server to design a tasting for you, which is sort of a middle ground--essentially, you tell them what you like/dislike, if there's anything in particular that you definitely want to try, and then they keep selecting/bringing out dishes until you don't want any more. It worked really well for us--we got to try a great variety, and you avoid the dragging on too long problem.

        1. re: Worldwide Diner
          dndicicco RE: Worldwide Diner Mar 25, 2014 05:28 PM

          Sorry to bring up such an old thread, but can't help but comment that in my experience if Ali (main sushi chef) if doing your meal chef's tasting menu, otherwise, a la carte, otherwise you'll be served a fairly generic set of courses that you could more easily personalize based on your own palette.

          Granted there are SO many wonderful items here. Some of my favorites are the walu walu and naso nigiri. You can get fresh wasabi too.

          1. re: dndicicco
            Worldwide Diner RE: dndicicco Mar 26, 2014 06:24 AM

            I actually just booked my reservation today. I'm not going until next month. Thanks for the heads up.

      2. Cheflambo RE: Worldwide Diner Jan 18, 2014 11:42 AM

        Beyond your travel range, but worth the cabfare, is the tasting menu at Sorrel (2202 W, Alabama). You can sit comfortably alone, service is attentive without being obsequious, and everything is delicious. Cameras on "the line" transmit to large screens, so you can even watch the activity in the kitchen between courses.

        1. j
          Jay Francis RE: Worldwide Diner Jan 26, 2014 07:24 AM

          You might be well pleased with Artisan's which is very near downtown. Kata Robata if it isn't too far to drive.

          And then, there's always this:

          1. w
            Worldwide Diner RE: Worldwide Diner Feb 2, 2014 07:43 PM

            Any Italian joint that does sea urchin pasta?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Worldwide Diner
              James Cristinian RE: Worldwide Diner Feb 2, 2014 08:49 PM

              Da Marco on Westheimer has it and is not too far from downtown.


              1. re: James Cristinian
                Worldwide Diner RE: James Cristinian Feb 5, 2014 01:21 PM

                Thanks. I'm gonna try to get there for lunch.

            2. b
              bornie RE: Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2014 12:49 PM

              Vic and Anthony's is nearby if you're in the mood for a great steakhouse..

              1 Reply
              1. re: bornie
                Lambowner RE: bornie Feb 3, 2014 02:31 PM

                I was at V&A's recently and the steak was excellent as were the sides. But the $12 salad was a pathetic and sad little "classic wedge" that wasn't classic at all. I'd avoid the salads.

              2. exalt RE: Worldwide Diner Feb 10, 2014 11:54 AM

                Just wanted to say that this thread helped me with exactly what the OP wanted on the same weekend. My concierge got me a reservation at Uchi and I had an extremely good meal. I chose the 6 course omakase/tasting menu, though there wasn't very much room for personalization. Thanks for the recommendations, everyone.

                1. d
                  DCLindsey RE: Worldwide Diner Apr 9, 2014 08:35 AM

                  When is your visit? My friend and I just did the long menu at the Pass and had a great meal. I lived in DC for 6 years and would put the Pass above the tasting menu at Restaurant Eve...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DCLindsey
                    Worldwide Diner RE: DCLindsey Apr 9, 2014 08:49 AM

                    In a couple of weeks. I have reservation at Uchi and Underbelly. I just canceled Underbelly and booked the Pass.

                    Did you do the 5 or 8 course? I see the 5 course is $20 cheaper but they skip the langoustine and foie gras.

                    1. re: Worldwide Diner
                      DCLindsey RE: Worldwide Diner Apr 9, 2014 09:33 AM

                      I've been to Underbelly a few times, The Pass once, and Provisions once. While very different experiences, the food quality as The Pass is far superior - I've been disappointed with Underbelly.

                      We did the 8 course. There was an mushroom dish that we wanted and it was worth the $20 for that course alone. I also did the full wine pairing - you can do the 5 course pairing with the 8 courses if you are feeling a little less boozy. In terms of tasting menus I've done, def a good value for the money, so recommend the 8 course.

                      1. re: DCLindsey
                        Worldwide Diner RE: DCLindsey Apr 10, 2014 10:42 AM

                        I've done lots of wine pairings and can never finish the wine if there's a new wine with every course. In March, after an afternoon of walking around Philly and drinking, I had dinner at Vetri with wine pairing and ended up falling asleep right after dinner, around 9 p.m. So it's good to know that I can match the 5 course pairing with 8 course dinner.

                        Ever been to Uchi?

                  2. w
                    Worldwide Diner RE: Worldwide Diner Apr 28, 2014 06:18 PM

                    I finally visited Houston. On Friday morning, there were plenty of UberXs around and I caught one from Discovery Green to Da Marco. This place is pretty formal with prices to match. I had the sea urchin crab meat spaghetti followed by 3 seared langoustines. With 2 glasses of wine, this lunch cost $130 with tax and tip but the food was superb. The pasta had a rich sea urchin sauce topped with additional sea urchin. The langoustines were perfectly seared - the texture of a great medium rare filet mignon.

                    Dinner was at Uchi, so I stuck around Westheimer, got a massage, drank tea followed by a couple of beers. I had a seat at the bar and I was told to order the 6 course tasting unless I was really hungry. I wasn't so I went with the 6 course tasting, but I added 3 pieces of sushi - ankimo (monkfish liver) and geoduck. The ankimo was so good, I had another piece. The ankimo was $7 each, geoduck $10. With a cheap bottle of sake, dinner was $190 with tax and tip. Again, great Japanese food but pricey (and none of the ingredients were super fancy, e.g., no blue fin toro). It was easy to catch a UberX to go back to the hotel.

                    Saturday morning there were no UberX around so I took a taxi to Hickory Hollow. At the last second I decided to go out for lunch, and to get some BBQ and HH was the closest that seemed to get good reviews. I ordered the Alamo platter, a bargain at $15, with lean beef, sausage, pork ribs, chicken fried steak, and 2 sides. The side of fried zucchini cost extra but it was awesome - light crispy well seasoned batter. Why can't they do that with the chicken fried steak? It was crispy and tender but flavorless! I also loved the pork ribs, but I didn't really care for the lean beef (I like'em fatty) or the sausages (not enough snap/bite/chew). There's a place in DC (by way of NYC) called Hill Country BBQ that does a fatty moist brisket that's awesome - I've heard it's even better in TX, too bad I didn't get to experience it. After lunch I rented a bike share and peddled my ass back downtown.

                    For dinner I peddled a bike to Cuchara (nearest bike dockage to The Pass), and then walked to The Pass. I did the 8 course dinner and it was fantastic. Best meal of the trip (#2 being Da Marco, #3 Uchi). Every savory course was imaginative, well conceived, and most importantly - tasty. Too bad the menu doesn't fully describe in detail each course, because the actual food was much better than the simple list of main ingredients. If Houston had Michelin stars, I would say this place deserves 2 stars based on the food and service.

                    The pics are (i) sea urchin pasta, (ii) ankimo and geoduck, (iii) menu at The Pass, and (iv) langoustine at The Pass.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Worldwide Diner
                      Lambowner RE: Worldwide Diner Apr 29, 2014 11:36 AM

                      Great review! Thanks for that. So the picture is one of 3 langoustines you ordered and they all came separately? Time for a trip back to DaMarco, they also have a truffle rissoto appetizer during truffle season that I want to try, though it is in excess of $100. I've read owner Marco goes to fetch the truffles himself. Still, I'm amazed at the prices, especially at Uchi.

                      As to the BBQ, next time you are here set aside a day to go to there actual Hill Country for BBQ at Smitty's or Kreuz's in Lockhart, then compare to a DC establishment! There are no comparable BBQ places in Houston that I know of, although I haven't been to Gatlin's and it gets highest marks.

                      Congrats on surviving biking through and around downtown Houston.

                      About the Uber, there is a battle royal waging in federal court right now about that service. Question, did you pay for the service? Seems they have been free, I guess as a new market promotion. Have you used it in any other market?

                      1. re: Lambowner
                        James Cristinian RE: Lambowner Apr 29, 2014 12:40 PM

                        I went once to Gatlin's and while it was delicious you can drive to Lockhart and back in the time it took me to get a brisket and rib a la carte, only a slight exaggeration. Don't forget a stop at City Market in Luling. Twenty minutes, one person in front of me with an equally small order. Total turtle operation, four people working, or whatever they call it.

                        1. re: Lambowner
                          Worldwide Diner RE: Lambowner Apr 29, 2014 01:56 PM

                          The langoustine pictured is from The Pass. The langoustines at Da Marco are split in half and then seared. The presentation isn't anything special so I didn't post a picture.

                          I've never used Uber before but I did pay for them in Houston. It was charged to my credit card which I have to provide initially to set up an account. There's no tipping in Uber and no cash should ever change hands.

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