Getting Reacquainted With Houston's Restaurant
Houston's Restaurant in East Memphis is a little like an old friend: easy to take for granted. I remembered this when we stopped by for dinner recently after skipping the restaurant for a year or so. So what's the upshot of our dinner at Houston's? Happy at the start; satisfied in the middle; sticker shock at the end. Here are more specifics:
Even on a Monday about 7:30 p.m., we still had a short wait, one of the many trademarks of this longtime Memphis restaurant operating for almost 30 years.
Houston's is a fantastic place for drinks. Expert bartenders serve Grey Goose martinis in deep glasses for $10. One drink is all you need. Orange and grapefruit juice also is freshly squeezed, which is why Tony always orders half orange/half grapefruit with an upgrade on the vodka.
Be careful with the salads. Unless you specifically ask for a dinner salad, you might get the $9 version. While it's big enough to share and comes with the restaurant's garlic cheese toast (love it), the salad ticks up your final tab. Loaded with croutons, tomatoes, sliced onions, smokehouse bacon, corn kernels, shredded carrots, and red and white cabbage, the salad is so overloaded with extras that I can't help but ask, "Is there any lettuce under there?"
The servers at Houston's are pros. They never write a word, but always get the order right, even when Tony spins off something like this: “I'll have a salad with hot bacon dressing and blue cheese on the side, hold the egg and substitute with extra onions. And I'd like the blackened rib-eye done Pittsburgh medium, which is charred on the outside and medium on the inside.”
Try the tuna because it's served with Houston's signature lime-cilantro sauce. Plus, the tuna entree is plated with flavorful tomatoes sliced in half and topped with fresh basil, along with Houston's excellent cabbage slaw.
Add on potatoes colcannon, a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, green onions and a bit of shredded cabbage.
Stay away from the steaks, especially if you buy meat at Charlie's and grill your own. For $32, the rib-eye disappoints. Big time.
Bitch a little when you get the tab, but then accept that even in Memphis dinner for two with drinks and a 20 percent gratuity can cost $115. There are, of course, ways to fix the high cost of eating out: Don't order with abandon like me and reaffirm your commitment to home-cooked dinners.
5000 Poplar Ave. (683-0915)