Posted on Friday, 31st October 2014
Houston, Texas is a sprawling city that is home to plentiful eating and the famous NASA Space Centre. During the first two days of my visit to Houston I stayed at the luxurious Hotel Sorella, located in the vibrant CityCentre development which is home to a number of sophisticated retailers, plentiful dining options, commercial office buildings and luxury homes. The hotel is sleek and stylish and designed with custom made details such as a unique European Murano glass chandelier and graphite colored ceramic floors.
The rooms are comfortably appointed with those on the upper floors offering sweeping views across Houston. There is a well-equipped spa and fitness centre and a variety of meeting room options for the business traveller, including a 4,000-square-foot ballroom.
For entertainment, the Monnalisa bar in the hotel serves specialty wines, cocktails and light bar food. The bar features an outdoor lounge area with sun loungers and an infinity pool overlooking the Citycentre plaza. Inside, the bar oozes a sexy ambience with a central fireplace as its focal point. It’s a gorgeous setting that attracts a chic clientele, especially on a Saturday night.
Hotel Sorella’s in-house restaurant is Radio Milano, a contemporary fine-dining Italian venue by much celebrated Chef Jose Hernandez who previously cooked at the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Fiamma in New York City. The food is refined and elegant, but also rustic and accessible.
Starters included an interesting dish of raw beet ribbons ($11) which was excellent. The bouncy crunchiness of the beets had been paired with some Blue Heron Texas goat’s cheese that provided a lovely counterpoint to the acidity of the beets. An arugula pesto added earthiness to the dish and there were also some caramelised walnuts for a sweet crunchy contrast.
Octopus (starter – $14, main – $25), cooked sous vide for 7 hours, was tender, yet firm. Accompanying the dish was some heavenly smoked potato gnocchi which were deliciously smoky. The gnocchi had been pan-fried with parmesan cheese that gave them a delicious parmesan crust. Finally, a (slightly salty) marinara sauce helped to bring the dish together with its rich tomato flavour.
A dish of crab ravioli ($15) was an interesting take on the traditional pasta. A layer of fleshy sweet crab had been topped with a gelee pasta sheet of huckleberry. It was a surprising combination, but a delightfully successful one as the sweetness of the huckleberry added an elegant sweet touch to the crab.
More traditional pasta dishes included fagotelli with butternut squash. The pasta parcels were well made and fat with a smooth and creamy filling. Also tasty was an excellent egg yolk and ricotta ravioli sat perched on top of an oxtail ragu. This was splendid dish, with the rich ragu combining beautifully with the runny yellow yolk of the ravioli.
Meats included a pheasant accompanied by a wonderful celery root puree, a hearty potato cake deliciously flavoured with thyme, and a sweet apple mostarda that helped to lift the pheasant. Other meat options on the menu included a rustic choice of veal cheeks with creamy polenta and osso buco sauce and a hearty pork trio of chop, leg and porchetta.
Radio Milano offers some great Italian cooking which is both rustic and smart. It’s fine dining, but accessible fine dining. It’s a wonderful dining option that completes the smart and luxurious Hotel Sorella. In Summary Hotel Sorella offers the complete package – fabulous food and wonderful accommodation. You never need step outside your hotel.
Note: The Austin Grand Prix in Texas kicks off today.
Food summary information:
Food rating: 4.5/5
Prices: $38 to $64 for three courses, excludes drinks and service.