Saturday, June 6, 2009


Mattie and I discovered Mark's on Westheimer two summers ago when we were invited to go to dinner with some guest speakers at the Holocaust Museum. Aside from me being ecstatic about sitting with some pretty cool people, we decided that Mark's was a restaurant to be reckoned with. I went there again with McKay and Deb for our girls shopping adventure and liked it even more. Thus, when Mattie and I were trying to decided where to spend our delayed anniversary dinner (delayed on purpose to coincide with having tickets to see Fiddler on the Roof) we naturally settled on Mark's. I will only comment on our dinner last night.

The inside of Mark's (from their website) almost where we sat...

Being in my motherly state I will be unable to comment on the adult beverages. I might be able to convince Matt to write a couple sentences about his martini and his glass of wine later though!

We first ordered their tomato appetizer. It was thin sliced heirloom tomatoes topped with avocado, watercress, and a citrus vinaigrette. The concept was good, but Mattie and I both felt that the tomatoes were not at their peak for such simple presentation. If you are going to have a dish that tomatoes are the super star of...then have super star tomatoes. These had decent flavor (but not a lot of that acidic bite that one desires with a good home grown tomato), but were slightly grainy. 

The next dish brought out redeemed the tomato salad. The menu described the soup as being a seafood and mushroom bisque, but this was so much better than that. It was not a typical bisque that I would think of (not very creamy looking), it looked more like a mushroom soup met gumbo (sans rice). It was topped with chunks of shrimp and lump crab meat and thinly sliced asparagus stalk. The base was very meaty flavored, but as far as I could tell, consisted of mushrooms and a seafood stock. The velvety texture of the fresh mushrooms gave a lot to making the "mouth feel" a bit more like a bisque. Also, there was the subtle hint of red or black pepper at the end of each spoonful (which I rather like in a bisque). 

Next we shared a Caesar salad. I realized as I took my first bite that as this was a nicer place, the dressing was probably homemade, which meant it probably had raw eggs, which is a definite pregnancy "no, no". I partook anyways feeling that I have done very good for the past 18 weeks in eating what the doctor has said is ok. The salad had a homemade parmesan crisp (which I love to eat and are really easy to make) and some (in my opinion) highly salted lettuce leaves that the actual Caesar portion of the salad sat on. The romaine was chopped (which I have found to be the new "in" for salad...chopped lettuce salads are very hot...or cold...right now) and tossed with bacon, parmesan, and a very good Caesar dressing. Their dressing was not too egg-y and not too creamy. It also had a nice zing of lemon in the dressing which I rather like (especially considering that my Caesar dressing is totally rogue). 

Matt enjoyed (although we traded plates midway) one of their featured items for the evening. He had the locally raised Kobe beef (which if it is locally raised I would have to put "Kobe" in quotation marks) and Bison. The Kobe beef was seared (or so the waiter said...when it came out I think he switched the two) and the Bison was slow, oven roasted. It was served with mushroom and parmesan risotto (which by the time I got to it was not as enjoyable) and a medley of summer vegetables (which were cooked and seasoned well. Seeing as we were confused on which was which ("Kobe" or Bison) I cannot say which I  liked more. Both were cooked to a nice Medium-rare and were seasoned enough to let the meat stand out on it's own.

I ordered their pork dish for the evening. It was slices of pork tenderloin (seasoned with salt, pepper, and rosemary), a couple of "chunks" of what only could be described as pulled pork (which really left me wanting a bun, pickles, bbq sauce, and a beer), and the most amazing grilled, bone-in, three or four inch tall pork chop I have ever tasted. As far as we could tell, the pork chop could not have been seasoned with much more than salt and pepper. It might have been brined, but it was not a complex brine if it was. When asked what made the pork so good, I would have to say the simplicity of the dish. It was grilled pork that tasted like pork. It had beautiful grill marks, it was juicy throughout, and it made me do a little happy dance. There were several relishes on the plate to go with the different preparations, but I only used the apple one for the tenderloin.

I will try to convince Matt to write about the drinks later and when he does I will talk all about the raspberry tart we shared for dessert. All in all, a great meal (with a couple of "ehs") and a wonderful date night!

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