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EAT: Chama Gaucha

Ok so this one took longer than it should have BUT in March, I was very lucky to be invited to a tasting with the Houston Food Blogger Collective at the Brazilian steakhouse, Chama Gaucha. This was my first event with my new foodie family, so I was naturally very excited and what a place to kick-off new adventures with!

The Houston location was the third addition to the Chama Gaucha family back in 2011 and is situated on Westheimer, close to the Galleria/Uptown area. Owner João Carlos Ongarotto has three other restaurants located in San Antonio (the original), Chicago and Atlanta.

This Chama Gaucha restaurant is large, with a similar decor to many other Houston-based steakhouses; white tablecloths, dark wood, a large wine cellar and a vast amount of seating. It also offers private dining with large projection screens for corporate clientele and a new a la carte menu, available at the bar.

Chama Gaucha Wine Cellar
Wine cellar

Like all good Brazilian steakhouses, Chama Gaucha cooks its meat churrasco style, which is brought to your table on skewers and carved in front of you there and then. But before I talk more about the meat, let me tell you about some of their other delicious offerings…

First up is one of my favorite parts: the Pão de Quiejo (cheesy bread rolls to you and me.) I always look forward to the Pão de Quiejo when I go to Brazilian steakhouses, in fact, I could probably fill up on these alone but that would be beside the point when you’re really here for the tantalizingly tasty churrasco style meat.

Next up is the salad bar, where do I start?! That’s the question you ask yourself when you head over to this all you can eat, help yourself appetizer bar. They have more than 30 different dishes to choose from, with everything from a charcuterie section, salads and veggies, to a creamy lobster bisque. Hold my caipirinha, I’m going in!

Chama Gaucha charcuterie
Charcuterie section

Now, onto the important stuff… the meat.

When you turn your card over they come round fast with the different cuts of meat, so make sure you’re ready! I tried the ribeye, filet mignon, Costela (beef rib), Cordeiro (lamb rack), Fraldinha (bottom sirloin) and the shrimp. The ribeye was definitely my favorite cut, it was perfectly seasoned and cooked a juicy medium rare. If you’re not a huge red meat fan though, the shrimp are big and grilled to perfection.

Chama Gaucha Beef Rib
Chama Gaucha Beef Rib

You can also choose from an array of side dishes but once you try the charred asparagus you won’t want any of the others. Seriously, I have never had asparagus that tasted so good! If you prefer something a little sweater with your steak, opt for the grilled pineapple, which comes with a sprinkling of cinnamon and adds a fruity twist to your savory plate.

Grilled pineapple
Grilled pineapple

To finish up, they have an assortment of your typical desserts: cheesecake, creme brulee, chocolate cake and all are big enough for two people to share.

Dessert selection: Chocolate cake, creme brulee, cheesecake.
Dessert selection: Chocolate cake, creme brulee, cheesecake.

 

Fun fact: Churrasco style cooking dates back to the 17th century from the region around the Rio Grande. Travelers or “tropeiros” would heat the meat from their cattle over hot coals, seasoning it with a little ash and over time, this has become the barbecue style cooking we know today.

Quick facts

Lunch, dinner and happy hour menus. Open seven days a week. Huge dining area, private dining for special occasions and corporate events.

Locations: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, San Antonio

Rating: 4/5

Houston Location: 5865 Westheimer Rd, Houston, Tx, 77057

Website: http://chamagaucha.com/houston/

Insta-worthy? Yes but the lighting isn’t the best.

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Where To Eat In Washington D.C.

A last minute, weekend trip to the capital with lots to see and endless culinary options; a wannabe foodie delight. But with so many choices and so little time, it can be hard to pick and choose where to eat so I want to share my Washington D.C. restaurant diary with you.

To help, I’ve split the restaurants up by their neighborhoods so you can fill your bellies based on your location (but most places are only a $10 Uber away). Want to see more highlights based on the below? Watch my D.C. story over on Instagram!

CityCenterDC

On our first night in Washington D.C., we decided to try some of the city’s French fare at DBGB Kitchen. First impressions weren’t great though when the hostess didn’t even greet us and more than 10 minutes passed before we were acknowledged by our server (and the restaurant was pretty empty at this point.) However, it was saved by the food that was to follow… The burrata was fresh and creamy and went perfectly with the zesty mandarins and sunflower seed pesto, a fab starter all round. For the main course, I had the Maryland Blue Crab Spaghettini and my husband had the Steak Frites. The steak was perfectly medium rare and the Bearnaise sauce tasted just like it had come straight from Paris itself.

Pictures from the left: Burrata and Steak Frites @ DBGB Kitchen and Soft Serve @ Milk Bar.

On our last night, we ended up back at CityCenterDC again. We didn’t have dinner here (we just came for a drink and got tempted by the soft serve) but if you like Japanese food and you’re in the area, I would definitely recommend paying Momofuku a visit. The menu sounds amazing, the food smelt delicious and the ramen bowl looked to die for. Looking for something sweeter? Momofuku’s Milk Bar sits to the side of the restaurant, selling its famous soft-serve and bakery goods. Personally, I think the soft-serve tastes like you’re eating a bowl of ice cold cornflakes but the cookies and the cake truffles are delish!

The Penn Quarter

Originally, we were on our way for some sandwiches at Smoked & Stacked but we ended up at Zaytinya because it was on the way to our next sightseeing stop. Not a bad little detour at all! If it was being rated on its service alone though, I might have said otherwise or maybe I’m just getting used to the lovely Southern hospitality down here in Texas. The menu is Mediterranean mezze style food so we ordered Tzatziki, Soujouk Pide (flatbread), Fattoush (salad) and the Biftek Muhamara (sirloin steak) to share. Everything comes as it’s ready, which meant the tzatziki was first out of the kitchen shortly followed by the Fattoush, and both were crisp and delightful when paired with their freshly baked pita bread. The Soujouk Pide was our favorite dish, with the spicy soujouk sausage giving the flatbread a perfect kick of heat.

Pictures from the left: Biftek, Soujouk Pide and Tzatziki @ Zaytinya.

Another stop in this area was The Smith @ Penn Quarter since we were craving some American eats from the capital of the U.S.A. The place was modern and cleanly decorated, with a fully stocked bar and a great atmosphere, which finally made us feel like we were in the middle of a busy capital city. The service was fast and friendly, and the food didn’t disappoint either… but somewhere with mac & cheese as a starter is always a winner in my eyes. Here, you’ll find everything from steaks and burgers, to salads and classic bistro entrees.

Pictures from the top left: Salmon, Chocolate Pot and Skillet Mac and Cheese @ The Smith.

DuPont Circle

After cycling and sightseeing on our last morning, we stopped at Cafe DuPont for Sunday brunch. Set off to the side of DuPont circle, the conservatory seating makes you feel like you’re sat in a French brasserie on a quiet Parisian street. It serves all the usual breakfast and brunch dishes, plus a few signature French fares as well. If it’s in your budget, the hotel would be an exquisite pick too.

Brunch

Eggs Benedict and Croque Madame @ Cafe DuPont

14th Street

If you’re venturing further away from Downtown, you’ll find some great food choices on 14th Street. And hidden in a row of D.C. townhouses, is a small and eclectic little eatery called Compass Rose, offering street food from around the world, with craft beer, fine wines and a sample of global cocktails. Even when our Uber dropped us right outside, the place was easy to miss but don’t be fooled by its exterior, this restaurant is definitely a must try.  The market fried cauliflower is the tastiest I’ve ever had, the lamb kefta was divine and don’t skip over the Khachapuri from Georgia. The cheese-filled bread may not be the healthiest option on the menu but it is definitely worth the calories!

Pictures from the top left: Khachapuri, Lamb Kefta and Fried Cauliflower @ Compass Rose

On the list but no time to try:


Stay tuned for more insights from our trip to Washington D.C., they’re coming to the blog soon!

Thanks for reading!

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Pancakes and Poachies at Snooze An A.M. Eatery

A Read Eat Discover review of Snooze’s new eatery in the Houston Heights.

So this one took a little longer than it should have… but better late than never right?!

Two weekends ago, I was very excited to be invited to the soft opening of the new Snooze An A.M Eatery (Snooze) in the Houston Heights. For those of you who don’t know, every time a Snooze opens they hold three soft-launch community days before their official launch day, in order to benefit local non-profits. This particular Snooze venue is working with HITS Theatre, Friends For Life and Buffalo Bayou Partnership and on the day I attended, it raised more than $4,000 for HITS.

The new location is fresh and vibrant with their on-brand seating areas, parking out the back (a plus in the Heights) and a quaint little patio at the back of the building; perfect for those warm sunny days.

The smell of coffee and syrup hits you as you walk in the door of this very busy, slightly hectic brunch venue but even with all the chaos, the servers were all super friendly and eager to help.

Here comes the problem though… what to order for brunch! The menu is filled with endless options of pancakes, French toast, eggs benedict, and other savory delights.

Brunch at Snooze

Pancake Flight, Corned Beef Hash & Egg Benny Duo.

As my colleagues and I were arguing over which pancake stack to get, our server very kindly recommended the pancake flight to share to complement each of our own breakfast dishes. Sold! And out came a trio of delicately fluffy pancakes and French toast. One heavenly sweet potato pancake topped with homemade caramel, candied pecans and ginger butter. A blueberry Danish pancake, which tastes like you’re eating dessert for breakfast and their OMG! French toast, the tastiest I’ve ever tried.

IMG_6204

Pancake Flight: sweet potato, blueberry danish & OMG! French toast.

If you’re not one for a sweet breakfast though, fear not. The menu offers an array of savory dishes, not to mention six different options of eggs benedict. Can’t decide? Pick the benny duo. After much deliberation, we went for the Ham Benedict III that has a small twist on the classic and tastes subtle and smoky with just the right amount of hollandaise poured on top. The Bella! Bella! Benny comes with prosciutto instead of ham, ciabatta instead of a muffin, plus Taleggio cheese and a cream cheese hollandaise. The sweet hint from the balsamic glaze and peppery arugula finish this dish off to perfection.

Breakfast Pot Pie was not one for me but it arrived with delicately flaky puff pastry and went down a treat for everyone else. The Corned Beef Hash was delicious and topped with more perfect poachies to mix through your hash combo.

IMG_6282

Corned Beef Hash with poached eggs.

If you like a caffeine fix with your brunch, stick to the freshly brewed coffee. Like something a little stronger? They have a good range of bubbles and “bloodys” to work your way through.

Quick facts: Indoor/outdoor seating, parking, no reservations, open daily from 6:30am – 2:30pm

Pro-tip: Get there early! The wait times at other Snooze locations can be 2+ hours and I’m sure it’ll be the same with this one.

Rating: 4/5

Heights Location: 718 A. W 18th Street, Houston, TX, 77008

Website: http://snoozeeatery.com/locations/the-heights/

Insta-worthy? Yes!

Thanks for reading!

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Classic French Feeds at Brasserie Du Parc

A Read Eat Discover Review of
Houston Restaurant, Brasserie du Parc.

If you saw my story at the weekend, you’ll know we ate at the authentic French restaurant, Brasserie du Parc. It is conveniently located a stone’s throw away from the Toyota Center and right across from Discovery Green, in downtown Houston.

Food blog - Brasserie du Parc

The brasserie has a very cute setting with tables and chairs that you see on the sidewalks of many French streets. The conservatory on the side is bright in the daylight and boasts marble finishes and delicate flower arrangements, which made me wonder why they had all the blinds closed. Or why they would choose black blinds in such a light and airy setting in the first place.

To drink, we ordered one of their punch bowls, which came in an adorable glass bowl with glass ladle to serve. We then sampled a range of starters, the pâte was to die for, made even better by the fact it’s the first pâte I’ve had or seen available since moving to Houston. Whereas the soup was a quite watery and the goat cheese or “salade de chèvre” was lacking on the cheese side.

 

The risotto aux fruits de mar (seafood risotto) was served with a generous portion of fish,   which was perfectly seared but the risotto itself was missing some flavor. The steak frites was plated just as it is in France and the boeuf bourguignon was juicy and tender, as you’d expect it to be.

We then ordered the tarte au citron, a pot au chocolat, and the pommes caramélisées to share for dessert. For me, the crepe was too thick and undercooked, which made it stodgy, especially with the lack of caramelized apples. But, the chocolate pot was delightfully rich and the tarte au citrone was served with an exquisite raspberry sorbet.

Quick facts: indoor seating, classic French Brasserie serving brunch, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
Rating: 3/5
Website: http://www.brasserieduparc.net
Location: 1440 Lamar St, Houston, TX, 77010
Insta worthy? Yes!

Read more reviews from Read Eat Discover here.

Thanks for reading!

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Wine Flights and Soufflés at Rise No.2

A Read Eat Discover review of Rise No.2.

Where do I start with this place? I love everything about it, from the Parisian vibes and delicate menus to the très chic finishing touches, it almost feels like you’re not in Houston anymore, almost.

Read Eat Discover - marshmallow soup

Located in the Uptown/Galleria area, Rise No.2 serves up a number of tasty soufflés, along with signatures dishes such as the Rise salad and the interesting Marshmallow soup (tomato and carrot bisque with mini goat cheese soufflés and a pesto drizzle, shown above) to start. They also offer a Chariot de Fromage, where you can choose your favorites from an international selection on their cheese cart, yes I said cart. Even the bread and butter they serve makes this place stand out from the rest with mini French baguettes which are served warm and accompanied by their very own custom Rise bread cutter.

Read Eat Discover - Rise No.2

The waiting staff are extremely helpful as well and always advise that you order your soufflés at the same time as your starter or main course, considering they take around 20 minutes to cook. The savory soufflés range from the more classic jambon and gruyere to truffle infused mushroom or the slightly more adventurous escargot soufflé. What’s even better is they all come in at 263-540 calories because they are made from egg whites, all the more reason to try a dessert one too!

Houston food - Rise souffle

But enough about the food, what about the flights? You can pair your chosen soufflé with a wine flight for less than $20 and choose between bubbles, French whites tour, French reds tour or Bordeaux vs. California and each come served in Rise’s super cute, recycled drinking glasses.

Want to take a little bit of Paris home with you? Well, they go one better than just your leftovers, you can also purchase a number of the items you see in the restaurant either in store or online. I have my eye on that custom Rise chopping board!

And if all that is not enough to convince you, they are taking part in Houston Restaurant Weeks right now. The perfect opportunity to eat soufflé until your heart’s content!

Quick facts: Indoor/outdoor seating, French soufflé restaurant. Fromage and flights, Monday – Friday, 6-7pm.
Rating: 5/5
Website: http://www.risesouffle.com
Location: 1700 Post Oak Blvd, #290, Houston, TX, 77056.
Insta worthy? Hell yes!

Have a recommendation for Read Eat Discover? Get in touch here!

Thanks for reading!

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Authentic Mexican Cuisine at Ambriza

A review of the Mexican restaurant, Ambriza in Houston, TX.

Last weekend, Read Eat Discover was craving some Mexican food and we stumbled upon Ambriza at Vintage Park. We were actually on our way to Torchy’s Tacos but passed this on the way and somehow, I managed to convince my husband to try somewhere new instead, thank you blog!

The modern Mexican decor and cute outdoor seating was a change from the more traditional styles of the usual Tex-Mex spots in Houston. We were greeted welcomingly by both the host and our server and were told they serve authentic Mexican food with a modern twist.

Read Eat Dsicover - Ambriza 4

What we ordered:

  • Queso Horneado – melted Menonita cheese, served with Mexican chorizo and fresh flour tortillas. My advice? Eat it fast! After a few seconds, the cheese becomes so hard that it tastes like rubber. Strong tortilla game, though.

ReadEatDiscover - Ambriza 1.0

  • Tomato Salad – freshly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with FRIED queso panela cubes and charred serrano lime vinaigrette. I mean, it’s sliced cucumber and tomatoes, where can you go wrong?! It all tasted fresh and the fried cheese was good, but I would have preferred if it wasn’t swimming in the vinaigrette (an easy fix, though.)

Read Eat Discover - Ambriza 2

  • Carne Asada Quesadillas – grilled marinated beef sirloin, served with all the usuals. Grilled beef with cheese, wrapped in a tortilla, nothing more, nothing less. Again, it tasted fine but again nothing special.

While the meal was ok, the waiting staff clearly weren’t communicating because every other minute a different person popped out to our table to ask how things were. While I appreciate a check back, this was more than one too many!

With all that said, the food was fine but make sure you check back for the next review as I know that Houston has a lot more to offer!

Quick facts:
Indoor/outdoor seating, dog-friendly (outside), authentic Mexican. Happy hour is 4-7pm, Monday through Friday.
Rating: 2/5
Website: https://www.ambriza.com
Location: Vintage Park, 10115 Louetta Rd, Suite 400, Houston, TX, 77070

 

Thanks for reading!

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10 Must Try Spots For Houston Restaurant Weeks

Don’t miss these restaurants during Houston Restaurant Week (August 1 – September 4, 2017.)

Houston Restaurant Weeks starts today and with more than 200 restaurants involved, Read Eat Discover wanted to share some of the best deals and spots on the list.

Houston Restaurant Weeks runs from August 1 – September 4, 2017, with menu prices ranging from $20 for brunch through to $45 (per person) for the higher end dinner offer. With each menu sold, participating restaurants donate a portion of the price to the Houston Food Bank, generating between 9-21 meals depending on the menu offered.

The list below is definitely not conclusive but it offers some of our top picks based on the restaurants we’ve previously visited. Take a look below:

B&B Butchers

Both menus are a steal for a two/three-course meal at B&B Butchers and feature items such as Chef’s Tommy’s Bacon with blue cheese and truffle infused honey (worth the additional $8), the 10oz filet mignon, and the butcher shop burger. Don’t miss the cheesecake for dessert!

Menus: $20 lunch & $45 dinner

Website: http://bbbutchers.com

Ciao Bello

You should definitely pay this lovely Italian spot a visit, even if you can’t make it during Houston Restaurant Weeks. The $35 dinner menu is for four courses and features its polpette (family meatballs), burrata caprese, a range of entrés and its house-made cannolis for dessert.

Menus: $22 brunch, $20 lunch, and $35 dinner

Website: https://ciaobellohouston.com

El Tiempo

It wouldn’t be a proper list without featuring at least one Tex-Mex in Houston! The dinner menu features guacamole and chile con queso to start, with a choice of fajitas for your entré, and Mexican sweets for dessert. If it’s anything like last years’ menu, you won’t go home hungry!

Menus: $35 dinner (available at seven locations)

Website: http://eltiempocantina.com/

Grace’s

Read Eat Discover - Grace's

Southern soul mixed with some Sicilian heritage, head here if you’re in the mood for some comfort food and you won’t be disappointed. The Restaurant Weeks menu features gumbo, southern fried pork chops, steak frites and bread pudding for dessert.

Menus: $35 dinner

Website: http://www.gracesonkirby.com

KUU

A fine-dining Japanese restaurant in the Memorial area which offers exquisite hot and cold dishes. The Restaurant Weeks dinner menu is four courses and includes a cold tasting dish, hot tasting dish, Makimono and a dessert. Make sure you try “June”, it’s one of the best spicy tuna rolls you will ever taste.

Menus: $20 lunch and $45 dinner

Website: http://www.kuurestaurant.com

Pinch

 

Read Eat Discover - Pinch2

This is one of Houston’s newer offerings and is located just off the 290 near the Magnum Rd exit. The menu offers up some seafood classics as well as some Texas comforts for those who aren’t big fans of fish dishes. Make sure you try the crème brûlée cheesecake for dessert!

Menus: $35 dinner

Website: http://www.pinchseafoodrestaurant.com

Rise No.2

 

Read Eat Discover - Rise2

You can’t go wrong with this cute French spot in the Uptown/Galleria area. The menu features a savory and a sweet souffle for your main course and dessert and make sure you don’t miss out on the marshmallow soup to start!

Menus: $45 dinner

Website: http://www.risesouffle.com

State Fare Kitchen + Bar

Read Eat Discover - State Fare

A modern Texas restaurant with lots of classic comforts. This Restaurant Weeks menu includes sweet cream biscuits to start, slow smoked beef shoulder and then Texas sheet cake for dessert. If you’re veering towards their main menu, try Jimmy’s “Texas Red” Beef Chilli Cheeseburger, you won’t regret it!

Menus: $20 lunch and $35 dinner

Website: http://www.statefaretx.com

The General Public

Tucked away in the back corner of CityCentre Houston, it would be easy to miss this place if you’re just wandering through the area. However, you should definitely give this upscale “pub” and its classic dishes, with a modern twist a try. The dinner menu features its oven roasted cauliflower, fish and chips, shrimp and grits and birthday cake.

Menus: $35 dinner

Website: http://thegenpublic.com

Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse

This American steakhouse offers a sophisticated vibe and upscale dining experience in downtown Houston. The dinner menu offers classics such as bisque and wedge salad to start, its filet mignon as an entré and an extremely tasty dessert options. Whilst the lunch menu features The Vic Burger, crab cakes and much more.

Menus: $20 lunch and $45 dinner

Website: http://www.vicandanthonys.com

 

Thanks for reading!

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Got any Restaurant Week recommendations for Read Eat Discover? Get in touch here.