Most of the places participating in this year's Houston Restaurant Weeks are located inside the Loop, which leaves those of us in the further reaches of Houstonia to battle against traffic just to get to a 7 o’clock reservation. But that doesn't mean there aren't some solid selections in the suburbs—in fact, we've lined up our favorites for you below.
This Sugar Land spot is one of my personal favorites, and their HRW menu for this year has upped the game since the last time around. Now offering a four-course meal at dinner, Aura Brasserie is coming in on the more expensive side with a $45 menu, but it's worth every penny. Crab beignets made their return as a starter choice, and chef Frédéric Perrier insists on his new cauliflower cream soup as the second course (I hope he plans to make that a permanent installment on the Aura menu). Third course is a choice between three entrees: beef short ribs, duck confit or tune niçoise. Trying to choose between any of these three might be the biggest impasse of your entire month. Dessert could be the famous creme brûlée “Le Cirque,” homemade blackberry cobbler or a chocolate fondant cake with pistachio ice cream. As usual, Aura does not disappoint, and they give Sugar Landers a good option for some HRW eating without having to commute for it.
15977 City Walk, Sugar Land, 281-403-2872, aurabrasserie.com
This fine dining destination in The Woodlands is known for its Italian theme and upscale atmosphere. Amerigo’s Grille has taken part in this year’s HRW and is providing the only Woodlands-original menu for this August. First course starts with choices of salad or the chef’s homemade soup of the day, a pretty tame start. But the main course of the evening includes your choice of fresh snapper adorned with crabmeat— what isn’t to enjoy about that?—all tossed together with a chardonnay reduction. Dessert has some Euro-centric classics such as creme brûlée or tiramisu. The third choice, the apricot roll, has my attention though, as a fresh fruit sponge cake. Amerigo’s menu is priced at $45, so it is more expense for only three courses, but this Woodlands local is listed with Houston chains like America’s and CRU in its area. It deserves some recognition for joining these larger establishments for the sake of charity.
Amerigo's Grille, 25250 Grogans Park Dr., The Woodlands, 281-362-0808, amerigos.com
Merlion on 4th
This Asian fusion eatery in the Clear Lake area offers the widest variety of choices I have seen on a HRW menu yet, and for only $35. Look for Thai salmon cakes, satay kabobs, crawfish and potato rolls as some of the appetizer options. Merlion keeps up the pace in entrees with Thai snapper curry, surf or turf kao pad, and more. The menu ends with the choice of a lemon raspberry cake, which sounds light and sweet to compliment the curries and satays. Merlion provides some creative flavors for those in Seabrook, so take a trip to 4th Street and take a look.
Merlion on 4th, 1301 4th St., Seabrook, 281-385-9975, merlionrestaurant.com
Even those born on the island can take part in Houston Restaurant Weeks with this Galveston favorite, which is serving a three-course dinner for $35. Starters at Saltwater Grill can include house potstickers, but I'd recommend the barbecue oysters with blue cheese dressing, which makes hot wings sound absolutely inferior by comparison. Entrees are evocative of the Gulf, and what good coastal citizen wouldn’t get excited over sweet potato-crusted catfish in an andouille cream? Or shrimp, crayfish, mushrooms and redfish in a brown butter wine sauce? Compared to the first two courses, dessert ends on a calm note, with bread pudding, key lime pie, and an unnamed chef special as the closing options, but let’s be real here; we came for the seafood.
|Saltwater Grill, 2017 Post Office St., Galveston, 409-762-3474, saltwatergrill.com|