i rarely read the houston press restaurant reviews mostly due to the fact i grew tired of reading about taco trucks, vietnamese & greasy ass burgers but this week’s review of voice restaurant was just another reason to continue NOT reading the press.
i sometimes wonder how a food journalist finds their way into criticising professional and hard working people? i can think of a few but i am not gonna “stir the pot” anymore.
the section about chef kramer and his staff’s efforts in the kitchen was positive but the entire review fell victim to the negative attitudes towards portion size & cost. voice is a very beautiful restaurant, possibly the nicest in houston (americas, the woodlands is also up there) and it takes a lot of time, effort & money to operate a hotel/restaurant. those nice chairs your sitting in cost money. the china, flatware & stemware are very expensive and too often need to be replaced. i am dumbfounded by the comparison of proper angus beef to “kroger select” meat we are so accustomed to reading about in the “burger tours” and adventures in “pho & bahn mi land”. im sure for the price of that $15 dollar “lunch box” you could get enough burritos, tom yum & tortillas to last you for a few days and im not even gonna start on the description of sous-vide – the fear of the unknown and the lack of knowledge played a large roll in that section of the review. i do agree with one point he made about the need for the maillard reaction (a chemical reaction to amino acids and sugars de-naturing) which provides that “seared” flavor. this process does nothing for the actuall level of moisture in any protein. it creates flavor when the protein hits a hot surface with partiular lipids and that is why traditionally we sear things. this process is often refereed to as “sealing in the juices”, which is the biggest lie in all of meat cookery. your not locking in juices – if that happened you would end up with protein full of blood and melted collagen. test it for yourself. get a piece of pork, chicken or beef and sear it (shit cook it well done) and then place a paper towel on the protein to see if any moisture is present. i guarantee you will have moisture.
sous-vide applications are commonly used to acheive a desired texture and when combined with traditional techniques such as searing, charring or grilling the sous-vide technique can not be stopped. it allows you to get the best from both worlds, texture & flavor. my favorite quote is “the disadvantage is that meat cooked uniformly to medium rare is boring”. thats a bold statement – especially in houston. it is used for many more reasons than simply cooking. it allows the chef to streamline his production area. it also offers the chef(s) a more precise product and in a more consitant manner. there is much more to the technique than meets the eye.
i think perspective was totally lost in the review. please don’t get me wrong, i love chicken fried steak & cold beer (shit, im from tomball for crying out loud) but it’s not all that’s out there…
in fact growing up in tomball i thought a night a goodson’s cafe was as good as it got but i only thought that because of the lack of diverse influences i grew up with. im not referring to my wonderful parents – im referring to the lack of diversity in the papers and periodicals that they were reading. it wasn’t until i moved to new england that i learned how one-sided the food community in houston is or was.
journalist need to realize the influence they have on people in houston and whether not that is a good or bad thing – it still exists. this kinda situation reminds me of when i have guests say they just flat out don’t like a certain protein, vegetable or herb and after a bit of investigating i usually reveal that they unfortunately had a bad experience with that particular food and it has forever stained their future to ever try it again. mr keller wrote about it and explained very well and used an ingredient that is widely frowned upon, foie gras. he explains that sometimes a chef is too concerned with the physical price of foie and cut it too thin resulting in a one-sided textured mess.
now, what if you are in a restaurant and about to try foie for the first time and you get served a crunchy & burnt piece of liver with a big nasty vein in it i assure you that your not going to be impressed and will probally hold off on one of the world’s incredible gastronomic pleasures for a long time. doesn’t sound very fair, does it? some people may read this review and automatically have a negative connotations about voice. i think it’s time we begin to enhance houston’s dining scene by getting out there and expeiencing it for yourself.
all in all, i think the review was good for the food and if the only real problems are the price of refills, portion size (compared to those establishments who consider more is more) and wine suggestions we all should feel very lucky to have a restaurant & chef so talented and admired as chef kramer (not to mention is very impressive staff) in our growing city!!!
i feel sorry for mr walsh because he didn’t experience the voice that i and a lot of others have. that sucks. i think their could have been more focus on more positive experinces that voice offers.
i will take my two sliders & parmesan fries at a cost of $14 and like it! i really hope that houstonions get out there and make their own decisions!!! that’s what it all about…
here is the review: