Retreat Hill just opened in August of 2009, and it has already made a name for itself among discerning vinophiles and high-end local restaurants. One of Retreat Hill's recent podium-makers is the ruby-red cabriolo, which is a plum-and-violet-boasting blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah that won a silver medal at the 2010 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The off-dry Riesling is another award-winner, concluding sip symphonies with a crisp, confident finish. Because the winery's prided juices are concocted from Texas- and United States–grown grapes, they let locals quench their thirsts for their native land far more sophisticatedly than sticking crazy straws in beehives and praying for accompanying chamomile. Call to schedule your visit.
Beneath the soft whirring of ceiling fans at all three Houston-area locations, chefs transform fresh ingredients into meat-centric and vegetarian Mexican dishes. Dark wooden beams hover over the sprawling, sunlit dining rooms, framing artfully plated seafood and steaks with dramatic architectural details. Spy conventions furtively crunch their nachos in private dining rooms, and visitors to the Cypress location can toast to tortillas on the outdoor patio.
Ray’s Gourmet Country’s executive chef Soren Pedersen is so dedicated to building a seasonal menu from the produce and meats raised near the Fulshear restaurant that Inside Rose-Rich Magazine noted, “There are no can openers at Ray’s, with everything being delivered fresh from the local markets.” If the hunt for dinner leads you here, you'll be rewarded with Saint Arnold–spiked fried gulf shrimp, foie gras and cognac terrine, and main courses such as chicken-fried ostrich, wild boar scaloppine, and braised veal cheeks. Desserts include pumpkin cheesecake with whiskey caramel and a double chocolate brownie with pear compote and amaretto-spiked crème fraîche. Ray's rolls out a brunch buffet every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and schedules live jazz and complimentary wine tastings on Thursday nights.
The sommeliers at The Cellar Door, Katy's only winery, share their love of liquids by vending fine wines made onsite and conducting wine-education classes. They source grapes from Texas, California, international regions, and Martian vineyards, fermenting them into more than 15 red and white wines. The kitchen crafts a range of artisan food made specifically to pair with the wine. Selections include flatbreads such as the Napa meat lover's and tapas such as the Santa Fe marinated grilled chicken. Visitors can also charter the banquet room for private, catered tasting parties, during which they can design their own labels.
The Cellar Door's comely décor surrounds visitors in classic wine-themed scenery, with a mural of a Tuscan vineyard and a statue of Sophia Loren made from grapes. The winery also hosts live music performances every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Though the exotic curries and spices at Island Spice Bar & Grill make meals into authentic Caribbean feasts, it's the restaurant's meats that really showcase the cuisine's unique flavors. Chefs fry up filets of shark in an island sauce and season and serve tilapia escovich style. They also have ox-tail beef soup and spice chicken with the flavorful heat of a jerk sauce. And by fusing Asian flavors with their traditional Caribbean dishes, they created soy sauce chicken lo mein, fried rice tossed with shrimp or chicken, or Asian-style barbecue pork.
Nearby, bartenders are on hand to blend up tropical drinks made from the house's large selection of Caribbean rums or serve ice-cold beers such as the Jamaican Red Stripe. Patrons enjoy drinks and meals in a welcoming dining room with a contemporary Caribbean design. Eight-foot-tall bamboo sticks offer clean, natural lines and a great hide-and-seek spot, while wicker furniture, fresh flowers, and seashell blinds give the room a carefree, friendly island ambiance.
Now in its sixth year, this annual country party packs its Saturday night lineup with live music, finger-lickin’ barbecue, and frosty beers—all to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Houston. A trio of string-plucking bands will keep cowboy boots clicking on the dance floor, including The Dirty River Boys. Meanwhile, more than a dozen smoke masters compete in a sanctioned BBQ cook-off. Throughout the night, you can feast on award-winning beef brisket and pork ribs, and bid on items at the silent auction.
Diners watch, transfixed, as a chef deftly chops, flips, and sears their meal in front of them while flames leap from the grill. This is Shogun Grill, where customers are often just a seat away from the culinary action.
The griddle-cooked teppenyaki dishes aren’t just for show, either. Packed with fresh chicken, steak, and vegetables, the entrees sate taste buds whose idea of a Japanese meal is more than just tipping a few soy-sauce packets into your mouth. The chefs also whip up fresh sushi starring salmon, eel, soft-shell crab, and smelt eggs.