Wednesday, January 29, 2014

the butter was the best part

I totally get how if you don't live in Houston and don't plan to come here, you don't care about this post. And that's cool. But my blog friends at the Houston meet-up over the weekend said they liked my food posts, so this is for them, and also because I bet this restaurant will be buzzed about for a long time and I want to remember what I loved and didn't love about it. I mentioned earlier this week that Andrew and I tried a new restaurant in Houston, Coltivare, over the weekend. Coltivare is run by the guys who run Revival Market, a market that has awesome weekly breakfasts, sells local goods, and does all kinds of cool stuff, so we were really excited to try it. It had only officially been open for a little over the week when we went and just received a great write-up by Houston's newspaper's food critic the day before, so we maybe should have considered our plans a little more...

The place isn't taking reservations right now. We showed up at 6:00 and put our name on the list and were told there was an hour wait. They use an app that texts you when your table is ready and where you can track how many groups are ahead of you to be seated. There were 24 groups ahead of us; the restaurant, I later learned, only seats 56. So we were in for a long wait.

We made the most of our wait time for the first hour by sitting in the car and entertaining ourselves with smartphones. At 7:00, we joined those waiting outside, most of whom had been waiting longer than we had. They started asking the hostesses what was going on and were told that people were lingering over their tables and not moving out as fast as they expected. I think there were 16 tables in front of us. A lot of people left in a hurry, even though everyone walking out of the restaurant said it was awesome. I think the owners could have cultivated a ton of goodwill by bringing out coffee, pizza samples, something for those waiting longer than the estimated wait time. It was cold and there was no room in the tiny restaurant for everyone to stand. They have yet to get their liquor license, so it was currently BYOB and most people finished their wine before they were seated.

Outside the restaurant

We got more and more agitated but kept moving up the line and were seated at 7:45. When we were seated, the waiter said that there was a liquor store three blocks up if we wanted to go buy wine.... ummm, that would have been great for the hostesses to share with us when we first got on the list, and in my subsequent check on our status. We were not going to wait to eat any longer. So, FYI Houston friends who may try it out, go three blocks farther down White Oak and you can get some wine... I also learned that there is a bar in that same direction that is perfect for waiting at. The things I wish I had known going in.

So then it was time for food. I thought the portions were great for the price! The plates are meant for sharing, which seems to be a newer trend in food that I'm a huge fan of. Andrew and I aren't shy about germs and we normally end up sharing most meals, so to be in a place where that's encouraged just makes it easier. There are snack options to start off with. We got picked vegetables, including broccoli, celery (the best part), carrots, and jalapeños, which we both really liked. The (raw) radishes with housemade butter and Galveston sea salt was highly recommended, so we got that, too. I think I just don't care for whole raw radishes because I didn't get this at all. Andrew loved it. The butter was pretty amazing, though - I ended up spreading it on my pizza crust because I loved it so much. So Cultivare, if you're listening, please make a bread plate to go with that fantastic butter.

One cool thing about Revival Market that has spread to Coltivare is the use of local ingredients. Coltivare has its own garden where it will grow much of its produce and sources things that are local and in-season. We had a shaved fennel citrus salad which was huge and one of our favorite parts of the night. It had avocado, oranges, and grapefruit, the perfect amount of dressing, and some spice from chili peppers. Andrew said it was his favorite of the night.

The sea salt and butter that went with the radishes (no pic of those) and the pickled veggies | the fennel salad - yum.

The heavier part of our meal came from a meyer lemon, goat cheese, and olive pizza. I picked off the olives, but I still liked the pizza. Lemon on a pizza was a new thing, but I liked the tartness and the thin lemon slices that you could eat, rind and all. A lot of people, my husband included, think that the crust is too thick,  but I really liked it. However, it might have been better suited for a more traditionally topped pizza. The toppings on this were high-quality and therefore more sparse than what you get at Pizza Hut. We also got ricotta gnocchi, which combines two of my favorite things (cheese and potatoes), so I loved it.  Perfect texture, just enough cheese. A little goes a long way, though, and I was happy to be able to share it. It was really rich and filling. Not to ignore our veggies, we did order some sautéed greens. To me, the greens were a little grassy and tasted like vegetables. I like it when my vegetables taste good and not healthy. Andrew liked them, though, so it was probably just me.

The pizza | Yummy Gnocchi | The Greens (the lighting was great for atmosphere, not the best for iPhone pics)

Overall, I would go back to Coltivare. The place is very small, casual, and good for a group of four or less. I don't think I would recommend waiting over an hour for it; it wasn't life-changing, but at least it was good and I didn't feel like our time was wasted. My advice? Wait until the hype dies down. If they still aren't taking reservations, go somewhere nearby for a drink (or two). Definitely check it out, but be smarter than I was and have a plan!

19 comments:

  1. all that food look so yummy! but dang girl, a ONE HOUR wait?! ain't nobody got time fo' dat! i hate it when popular restaurants "dont accept reservations". WHY NOT?!

    kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  2. When I read your title I thought, the butter is always the best part for me. Ha!

    That wait is ridiculous, it's weird that someone would linger over a table knowing there was a wait and that they couldn't by alcohol.

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  3. I have no reason to have read this entire post. But I did. And I enjoyed it. See. That's the kind of blogger you are--you write in a way that you could be listing the phone book and I'd read the whole thing nc I just like your style so much. A,so--boo for waiting 1 hour and 45 mins for a table. You are way more patient than I am. Ok, that's a lie. I'd wait--j would not! Haha

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  4. The BYOB is a new thing for me. I don't think places around here allow it. All the food looks delish! The pizza is a little random for me, but i am rather picky.

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  5. The butter is always the best thing, isn't it?

    I love the idea of that pizza.

    I've tried to do the radishes in the salt and butter and I still just don't like them. I want to though.

    I would have been so pissed about them not telling me about the wine sooner.

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  6. This place looks neat. I don't think it is the kind of place my husband would like so who knows if I will ever make it there!

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  7. WOW! That's some patience! I don't think I could ever wait an hour and 45 min to get seated!! I'm very impatient! Haha, glad you enjoyed it though!

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  9. I usually don't mind waiting places as long as they are up front about it ahead of time. Love that most places now text when your table is ready. And BYOB = the best!

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  10. I always end up hungry when I'm reading through my favorite blogs. It never fails that someone posts something delicious that I want immediately! That sucks about the wine and the waiting!

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  11. i love places that encourage sharing. i don't love waiting though

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  12. The only thing I kept thinking about as I read this was -- David and I are in for a real treat once we get back there to visit you guys. All the places you go look great! I also thought, "Goodness, I can't be a picky eater when I'm there." ha ha!

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  13. Can they remain BYOB even after they get their license? That would be solid.

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  14. This just made me super hungry! Long waits are the worst though. I personally think that reservations should be taken everywhere!

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  15. Wow that pizza sounds amazing, lemon and all! I couldn't handle that wait unless I had wine! I'm pretty sure we waited that long at a BYOB Italian place (because we had like 15 people), but it was okay because we had wine AND coolers of beer. So classy. ;) I LOVE your food posts, so keep 'em coming!

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  16. Holy wait Batman. You know your a foodie when.... so glad the food was worth it though. The fennel salad definitely looks delicious!! And I'll take your olives!

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  17. Oh man... I would've needed to be tranquilized with a DART if I had to wait that long for food, haha! I've never been to a place that lets you bring your own booze... that's pretty sweet actually!

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  18. Yum! All that food looks delish! I hate waiting for more than 25-30 minutes. (I dont even like doing that.) But if there is a bar I can sit at or a fun atmosphere, then I dont mind. The Dixie Fish Company that I wrote about texts you when your table is ready to.

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  19. Ooh, all of that food looks really delicious, but there's no way in heck I'd ever wait that long to eat! That reminds me of when Brooklyn Athletic Club first opened...George and I tried to go there 3 times before we finally got in! We kept trying to go without a reservation (dumb) and the wait times were insane. Luckily the hype has died down now, if you haven't been yet...not sure if we've discussed that place or not? I can't remember.

    Anyway...now I want pizza. Thanks!

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I like comments and read them all but I'm not great about responding to them, so please don't be offended. I would much rather visit your blog instead!