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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Américas River Oaks - Houston Trip

Over Labor Day weekend, we went to Houston to visit my fiance's family. His parents live there and his sister from NYC also flew down. They wanted to take us out for a nice dinner to celebrate our engagement and also it was his parents' anniversary! So I started researching places to go and came across this place. I love Latin food. The menu looked delicious and we were able to get a reservation on Saturday night even though it was only a few days in advance.

Américas River Oaks
2040 W Gray St.
Houston, TX 77019
(832) 200-1492
Price: $$$$

Only after I made the reservation did I discover that it was also Houston's Restaurant Week and Américas is participating! $35 a person for 3 course like in Dallas, and partial proceeds going to charity. :) They had so many choices on the RW menu. Excited!

The restaurant is located upstairs in a shopping center. As soon as we walked in, we started noticing all the decor. It was very unique! Then we saw a plaque that says Zagat's Best Decor Award in 2013. It was very whimsical. Lots of interesting shapes on the walls, chairs, lots of different textures too. I haven't seen a restaurant like this before. They had one wall with these giant popcorn all over, made with some sort of fabric? The booths' chairs were over the top and really cool.

The waiter came by to greet us, he was very nice. Took our drink orders and we got some Fried Plantains with 3 dips. All 3 were great, especially the chimichurri. I love plantains, these were fried to perfection. And with the sauces, yum! We were hooked.

My fiance's sister ordered a michelada, which is Mexican beer mixed with lime juice and assorted spices and peppers... kind of a Mexican bloody mary. Looked pretty cool, and quite spicy!

4 of us ordered from the RW menu, and his sister decided to order from the regular menu.

RW First Course:
Empanadas (flaky, golden-brown savory latin pastries): Beef (caramelized onions, cumin, malbec-soaked raisins, roasted peppers and olives with rocoto sauce); Chicken (pulled roasted chicken, red pepper, sherry, basil and candied pecans with avocado mousse). 
I got one of each, and his mom got just chicken. Both were fantastic. The crust was flaky and crispy. But the sauces were the stars on both. I thought I would like the chicken better because of the avocado mousse but the rocoto sauce on the beef edged it out. It was amazing. I have no idea what rocoto is, but I can drink it!!!! Both had a ton of flavors. Definitely two thumbs up.

Cubana (black bean soup with onion-cilantro relish and provolone cheese served in a toasted sourdough bread boule). 
My fiance got this. It looked so good. So cheesy and the soup was thick and full of beans. Really tasty. However, the bread bowl was hard to eat. And there was a lot of it. There really wasn't as much soup as it seemed. But that may be a good thing since this is only first course!

Fish Taco (mahi-mahi, cabbage, rocoto pepper and pico de gallo). Cute little taco. A little small compared to the other dishes but looked yummy.

Mixed Greens Salad $6.95~ His sister ordered this. Looked great with all the toppings... pickled onions, corn, etc. She said it was spicy too! Nice.

RW Second Course:
The Churrasco (6 oz. signature center cut beef tenderloin, chimichurri seasoned and chargrilled with fingerling potato, grilled vegetables and bearnaise sauce). This was "Voted Esquire Magazine's Top 20 Steaks in America". His dad ordered it and said it was really good. I didn't try it since I had steak myself.

Beef Tenderloin Brocheta (grilled beef tenderloin and shrimp with onion and poblano over chorizo caribbean rice). 
This was my entree. Huge portion. The beef was super tender and the rice had so much flavor. So far everything here was a flavor explosion. It was hard to tell everything apart after awhile since all the flavors are so bold. But it was good. I shared some and still took over half of it to go, there was too much food!

Grilled Mahi Mahi (black bean and shrimp veloute, fried pickled okra). His mom ordered this. The fish was cooked well. It was good. The fried pickled okra was totally interesting and awesome.

Achiote Seared Ahi Tuna (cilantro broth, citrus salad, goat cheese snow). 
My fiance got this. I didn't even consider it because of the goat cheese snow. (I don't like goat cheese as y'all know.) But you can't taste it at all. It was amazing. Best dish of the night in my opinion. The tuna was top notch and full of flavor. And such beautiful colors!

His sister got the Lobster Corndogs (house made lobster sausage, carnival style corndog batter, lemon chardonnay aioli) $12.95~ 
As soon as she saw they had this, that was it. It was so fun! The plating was very whimsical like their decor. And food on a stick, always fun to eat.

With all our dishes, they gave us some sides. From the top: some sort of fried yucca balls, white rice, sweet plantains, and lentils. The lentils and plantains were my favorite. Sooooo good. The yucca balls were good but quite dense. I like the yucca fries better.

We also got some additional Sides $6~ each:
Chargrilled Corn & Crispy Mushroom. Interesting flavors, we couldn't quite pinpoint what some of the spices were. I liked the crispy mushrooms for added texture. 

Grilled Asparagus. Pretty standard, good with the creamy dipping sauce. 

Yuca Steak Fries. No picture, sorry. But looked like normal thick cut fries. It was fried really well.

RW Third Course:
Tres Leches (soaked in sweet vanilla laced cream then topped with Italian meringue). 
One of the best tres leches we've had. My fiance recently discovered this dessert and he's now pretty obsessed with it. haha. He said it was definitely the best one he's had. It was sooo moist, the meringue on top was great.

Kettle Corn Tres Leches (fresh grated corn, whipped mascarpone, caramel, and Italian meringue). 
This sounded totally interesting. It was topped with caramel and kettle corn. I liked the added texture of the popcorn. But the caramel made it a tad too sweet for me. My fiance tasted mine second and he was like "omg yours is even better". And then he would eat anothe bite of his, and say that's still the best. haha. He couldn't decide, they were both amazing.

Besame con Alfajores (miniature melt-in-your-mouth dulce de leche cookie sandwiches).
His dad ordered this just so we can all try something different. These little cookies were so cute. And they really did melt in your mouth. The filling was rich and sweet. It would be great with tea or coffee.
Their normal tres leches comes with a tableside show. They light it on fire! I was a little disappointed that they didn't do it for the RW desserts. But the table next to us got one and I was able to get it on video. I'm always a sucker for tableside presentation... and FIRE! :P

Really great find. Not only great food, but an experience to discover all the little (and big) decor elements. All their door handles were these dog or mouse figures. The bathroom was trippy too, like walking into Alice in Wonderland a little bit. It was a fantastic dinner. We ate so much and it was all delicious. I definitely recommend this place. I would go back again whenever I'm back in Houston. And a big thank you to his parents for taking us out to dinner! :)

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