Saturday, July 17, 2010

Up in the Air

Lark Creek SteakNo respite from air travel this month. I was back in the USA right after the Fouth of July weekend. San Francisco was lovely, with no rains for a change and very pleasant evenings. However, Houston was hot and humid as hell. But it was good to be back in Texas after so long!

Lark Creek SteakI did more steakhouses during this trip than I have in the recent past. I was back at Lark Creek Steak, this time at the Chef's counter watching John Ledbetter busy at work at the huge wood-fired grill. Cooking steaks is pretty basic but what seperates the best from the run-of-the-mill are the quality of ingredients and precision timing. This time I tried the 10 oz. New York Strip as a part of their Traditional Steakhouse Menu, which begins with a green salad and ends with vanilla ice-cream profiteroles.

Lark Creek SteakThe Little Gem Wedge salad was excellent! A wedge of Romaine, bacon, chopped egg, buttermilk-blue cheese dressing made for a heavenly beginning. The steak came with a side of whipped potatoes and crispy onion. Absolutely perfect.

The profiteroles rounded off another perfect dinner. It was evening and the restaurant was full. It was amazing to see the chef grilling about a dozen different steaks on the huge grill without burning anything! A professional kitchen is like an opera. Everything looks casual at the first glance, but then you can see the choreography and professionalism beneath the calm exterior. I have also never seen so much meat all at one time!

Americas in HoustonAt Houston, I walked down from my hotel to Americas, one of my favorite eating places here. Churrasco steaks with chimuchurri sauce like I remember from before. I hadn't forgoten the Tres Leches Cake and ordered it again. Excellent and just as I remembered it. Left me feeling very full indeed!

On another evening, I dined at Romano's Macaroni Grill near the Galleria area. The crab-stuffed mushrooms were filled with lump crabmeat, shrimp and Italian seasonings, then baked until golden. I followed with a seafood Linguine with seared sea scallops, jumbo shrimp and sweet clams sauteed with olive oil, oven roasted tomatoes and fresh arugula.

Macaroni Grill in HoustonBefore leaving, I hosted a team dinner at Truluck's a Seafood and Steakhouse on Westheimer. This time I did not have my camera, but the plates full of crab claws, oysters, crab cakes, shrimp and other delights of the deep were a sight to behold.

The steak did not disappoint either. The Steak au Poivre, 5 oz. of pepper-crusted filet of beef served with parmesan mashed potatoes and brandy-peppercorn cream sauce was perfectly cooked and its size just right after that large starter plate of seafood.

I ended the meal with a tasting of their popular carrot-cake: the largest one I have ever seen served as a single serving!

Waterfront in San FranciscoI flew Continental between Houston and San Francisco and realized they were probably the best in service quality among airlines within the USA. No charges for checked-in luggage and free food (something we take for granted in Asia, but not standard practice any longer within the USA). My iPad has turned into a handy companion for all the hours spent in the air and in airport lounges.

KrisFlyer Lounge at SingaporeSingapore Airlines continues to have the best service and in-flight food, but their business class cabins are beginning to look a little old and in need of refurbishment. But they are still the best! The KrisFlyer lounges in Hong Kong and Singapore serve some of the best food I have seen offered free by airlines. Steaming delicate dim-sums at Hong-Kong, Chicken redang curry, sushi, gourmet teas and Haagen Daaz ice-creams - they are all here and free.

First SquirrelFinally, here a cute little fellow I photographed when strolling by the White House when I was in Washington DC last month. Didn't as much as pause in his eating as I stepped closer to take his picture.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Lark Creek Steak

Ceasar Salad at Lark Creek SteakLark Creek Steak is another restaurant from Bradley Ogden's expanding empire of culinary outlets. However, unlike other over-hyped restaurants from celebrity chefs, this one was quite a pleasant experience. While the menu has several options including pot pies, roasts and seafood, the steaks at this restaurant is highly regarded.

The restaurant is located on the fourth level of the Westfield shopping mall. The decor is warm, lots of wood, but modern and well lit. The large open kitchen sits on the far end of the dining room.

Lark Creek Steak
Lark Creek SteakI started off with Bradley's acclaimed Ceasar Salad and immediately knew why this simple dish gets so much praise from reviewers. The presentation and the taste were both appealing and set the stage for the meat that was to follow. Whole leaf Romaine and parmesan croutons have never looked and tasted better!

Ceasar Salad at Lark Creek SteakI had ordered a Bone-in Ribeye and the slab of meat that arrived looked suitably overwhelming. 16 oz of buttery and nutty tasting meat that had been dry aged for 28 days before being cooked perfectly! It seemed like a travesty to even use the accompanying horseradish sauce. The mixed beans I had ordered on the side were fantastic too: a mixture of different beans, cooked to perfection with flakes of red chillies and slivers of garlic.

16 oz bone-in ribeye at Lark Creek SteakEven though I was quite full, I was tempted by another of this restaurant's signature dishes: the Butterscotch Pudding dessert. The dessert was nice, soft and freshly made, topped with whipped cream and chocolate granules.

Butterscotch pudding at Lark Creek SteakI also returned to an old favorite, Ame. This time I took a seat at the sushi bar and ordered a sake from Hokkaido which was rather nice. The oysters poached in a creamy sauce and made into a pot pie was interesting and so hot I singed my tongue!

Poached oyster Potpie at AmeThe suckling pig was soft and fatty contrasting with the crisp bacon wrapping on the outside. The dish was served on a bed of shitake mushrooms and peas.

Strawberry parfait at Ame
The dessert of strawberry parfait with iced milk and toasted nuts tasted as good as it looks in the picture!