I had the opportunity to experience the Houston Restaurant Weeks (HRW) menu at Caracol restaurant last week. While Caracol is clearly a hip, cutting edge, destination eatery, a certain sincerity comes across from the staff that I have to believe emanates from owners Tracy Vaught and acclaimed Chef Hugo Ortega. Each of the couple’s hugely successful restaurants (Prego, Backstreet Café, Hugo’s, and Caracol) are participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks, and I see that as a humble nod towards the city of Houston.
There is no doubt that the staff here takes your dining experience quite seriously. What makes Caracol so endearing during a time that can be considered a dining renaissance in Houston, is how well looked after they make you feel as the kitchen turns out consistent, high quality food.
It is obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the four prix fixe menus created especially for Houston Restaurant Weeks. The menus include “Vegetarian, Ocean Lover, On Dry Land, and Our Style,” options, each designed to be a unique dining experience.
I uncharacteristically chose the “Ocean Lover” option. Through a delightful mix up, I was presented with Campechana Estilo instead of Gazpacho Rojo as my “amuse”. This presented no problem for me even though my next course was Cerviche de Caracol. Both of these dishes involve well turned out cold seafood components but the difference really stops there.
Striped bass took center stage as my main course, in a tomatillo-caper sauce with crispy shallots. The fish was cooked medium with a skin that was perfectly crisp and hard to resist.
Rum roasted pineapple, with coconut ice cream perched atop a pistachio cake followed for dessert. The pistachio cake was a bit lackluster but hardly noticeable as the pineapple and coconut ice cream were superb.
Noteworthy dishes from the "Our Style" menu included mussels and a crispy roasted duck leg.
|Mejilones en Verde|
|Pato en Pipian Rojo|
Take the opportunity to dine at Caracol during HRW. The restaurant donates $7 for every dinner ordered from the HRW menu which means The Houston Food Bank can provide 21 meals to Houston's hungry population.