Houston Restaurant Weeks annual month-long charity event kicked off August 1st inspiring several local restaurants to create a menu whereby patrons can “dine” for a cause. Two Girls were invited to preview Chef Mark Cox of Mark’s American Cuisine‘s special 6-course prix fixe dinner menu where proceeds will benefit Camp SAY. For the entire month of August Mark’s will be giving $5 from every $29 3-course prix fixe lunch and $10 for every $75 6-course prix fixe dinner to help children in need through the Stuttering Association for the Young.
When I arrived at Mark’s, I was greeted by one of their friendly hostesses and escorted to the private dining area for the “dinner preview” guests. I took a moment to take in the beautiful decor and I knew in an instant, exactly why Mark’s was named the “Most Romantic” restaurant in Houston. The soft lighting, subtle nuanced architecture, and intimate seating really created an upscale charming ambiance.
Already seated at the table were some of Houston’s “Who’s Who” of food writers, critics, and bloggers. I had the pleasure of meeting the two ladies behind “Urban Swank” while chumming it up with the infamous gentleman behind “High Tech Texan“, Michael Garfield.
We were served light cocktails before the first course. Once all the guests arrived and were seated comfortably, the presentation of the first entree began. A beautiful plate creatively called, “Oysters in Dune” reminded us all of a scenic walk along the beach in the early days of summer. On our plates, we found fried gulf oysters, grilled garlic root, sea bean, a coarse but flavorful coriander sand infused with salt and ginger root, corn shoots, and yuzu. I’m not a fan of oysters, but I actually enjoyed them; they were fried to perfection and had a fresh taste. In my brief experience with oysters in the past, they were cold, slimy, and a little gritty. Today this was certainly not the case.
Next up, a dish simply named, “Beef and Watermelon.” The flavors were anything but simple. Hands down, this was my favorite course; beef short rib, watermelon, radish, smoked halloumi cheese, watercress, and cayenne gastrique. The pairing of halloumi and short rib together created a brilliant savory and almost buttery experience. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing the short rib tasted; everything plated complimented its counterparts resulting in several empty plates sent back to the kitchen.
For our third course, the servers presented, “Quail in Vegetable Garden.” This dish featured grilled quail, carrots, squash, fennel toffee, and dehydrated pumpernickel. The bird was very tender and succulent and I enjoyed rubbing it through the fennel toffee sauce.
Summer memories are often filled with trips to the beach, camping, swimming, grilling, and lots of ice cream. Our fourth course offered a sweet detour from the savory dishes and right down memory lane. We were treated to fresh grilled peaches ice cream. The homemade (in-house) ice cream was served atop a firm fol epi cheese with toasted brioche and complimented by a nice drizzle of honey. The ice cream danced delicately on the palate enhanced creatively by an obscure sprinkle of thyme. The flavors were very interesting and I loved every bite.
Just when life couldn’t possibly get any better, another dish appeared. Our fifth course really impressed me as well as the other diners. We were served a beautiful foie gras creamed mousse. The look and texture resembled a very creamy smooth version of cheesecake. The dish looked amazing and I couldn’t stop eating it. I thought the gold flakes and chocolate drizzle were a nice touch.
Last but certainly not least, we received a beautiful box of chocolates as parting gifts. The chocolates were made in-house by Mark’s pastry chef Brittany Reed. We were treated to an assortment of decadent flavors celebrating the richness of the chocolate candies. Some of the flavors in my box included chocolate ganache, Chambord, Grand Marnier, sea salt caramel, and creme brulee. I couldn’t pick a favorite, but it’s a toss up between the Chambord or the Grand Marnier. I finished the evening with a small cappuccino.
I overly enjoyed this tasting and would love to return in the future on “Date Night.” I am glad I attended the event and hope to raise more awareness for the organization SAY and the Camp SAY program through social media and other channels. If you haven’t had a chance to, you need to make a reservation for the lunch or dinner prix fixe menu before September 1st. The courses were creative, delightful, and splendid.