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Friday, September 14, 2012

Palate Adventurers: Third Quarter 2011 Gathering - Reef Houston

The idea to go to Reef came from seeing it on the show The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Channel.

And even though it is primarily a seafood restaurant it ended up making the show due to another menu item.

It was the biggest pork chop I've seen in my life!! 

We made our reservations and headed downtown.  Upon arriving we parked at a nearby empty lot and upon walking up discovered a sign that said free valet.  So when we return we will take their polite offer and save us some of the stress of parking in a large city.

Upon entering the hostess left something to be desired when asked simple procedural questions.  We arrived a tad early and stood in the bar area while we waited.  The hostess said that she would let us know when our table was ready.  When I glanced down at the time I noticed it was getting close to being ten minutes past the time we were supposed to be there.  I went over to ask the lady if our table was ready and she looked at me in that way people do to make you feel two inches tall. 

I went back to the bar and gathered the group and we headed to the table.  While walking I took in the atmosphere of Reef.  I felt almost as if I was dining on the bottom of the sea but not in the bright primary colors type of way but in a more of a shimmery mermaid's tail tone.  Our table was along one of the walls and the wall was a work of art in itself.  A beautiful interpretation of waves textured upon it. 

We perused the menu and planned out our unique Reef experiences.  I enjoyed a shrimp shooter at the suggestion of friends who had been there before.  It was not my cup of tea but another one of the adventurers, whose taste it did fit, said that it was very enjoyable.  My perspective was that it was too much tart tomatoness going on for me. 

For my entree I ordered the andouille sausage scallops.  The scallops were very good.  It was as if they took the andouille sausage thread it through a needle then weaved the sausage through the scallopIt was amazing.  The sear on the top and bottom of the scallop was perfect.  The sausage added a little something to the caramelization.  The cook was definitely spot on.  My only complaint would be that the menu did not quite explain my meal enough to me.  I did not know what the sauces were on my plate.

I figured out the orange colored food was perhaps a sweet potato concoction.  After looking at the menu while writing this is, it appears that their food changes, so I am not sure if that is why they cannot explain their food on their menus.

What I have come to discern here is that Reef is either too fancy of a place for me, or they could use some work in helping the diner know what they are eating.  Here is my example of why I feel this way.  I put my scallop, which I had already enjoyed two of them and they tasted wonderful, in a sauce that was provided.  I put it in my mouth, and not a few minutes later my mouth went numb and tingly.  It was not a bad thing necessarily, but when I was not expecting such a change  I was  taken by surprise.  The words 'food allergy' ran through my head.  It went away after a few minutes and I was fine.  Me being a big customer service person I had to ask myself, Is being trendy or saving money worth scaring your customers?

I am sad to say that I cannot report on the potato, salad combo that was served alongside of my scallops, because they just did not stand out to me.  Maybe they were lost next to my suprising experience, and the best piece of pork I have every had in my life.  Which is what my husband ordered.

The Big Pork Chop is a double chop that they lay over a bed of chunky, spicy vegetables.  Please do not quote me on this but I think they brine it, smoke it, bake it, then sear it, and then it magically floats to your table complete with glowing light and heavenly music because it is that good .  I never knew that so much love could go into a piece of meat,  I only received a few bites of the thing.  He did share with everyone to make sure they all got a taste of that awesome hunk of pork.  Those few bites I did have were tender and the juice that was pouring out of it had the most flavorful taste.  I felt you could taste all the time that went into it.  It vaguely reminded me of the way when you fry a turkey and it holds all of its own juices inside of it.  Since he was the one who ordered it I felt compelled to tell you that my husband says that it was executed perfectly, and it could not have been better.  The only thing left to say about this absolute pork dream is, Go get this pork chop.

The coffee we were served was a tad bit on the strong side for me, but for someone else's taste it might have been on point.  It did not seem as if it was burnt or old, it was just too bitter for my enjoyment.

The desert I chose was a chocolate lover's dream.  It had so many different layers of chocolatey goodness I cannot remember them.  It was a cylinder of 2 to 2 1/2 inches high and about three inches across.  On the top it had a dollop of chocolate whip cream with a piece of a chocolate tuile crowning it.  It also was accompanied by a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream resting upon a generous pile of crushed up cookie or crust of some sort. 

I also had a bit of one of the cheese cakes that were ordered, and it was so silky and smooth.  I couldn't complain one bit about the quality of the dessert.  I may order that next time when we go back.


I would return time and again for that pork chop I have to tell you!