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Published by Mark Martin
Brunch review published in Cuizine Magazine in 2006
Brunch review published in Cuizine Magazine in 2006

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Published by: Mark Martin on Sep 04, 2009
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Farrago World Cuisine
318 GraySt @ BagbyHouston , TX 77002
A Fine Mess: Brunch as Medley at Farrago By M. Martin The American Heritage
Dictionary defines a 'farrago' as "…anassortment or a medley; a conglomeration… ", derived from a Latinword meaning "mixed fodder". In Midtown Houston, Farrago is alsothe name of a stylish, minimalistic restaurant anchoring the corner of amixed residential/commercial development in an area that is fastacquiring a reputation for fine dining and cocktails that deserve to benoticed.My dining companion and I wound up at Farrago's almost byaccident. I needed to do a brunch review on a Saturday and hadbusiness to do in the midtown area. A Google search turned up amodest number of Saturday brunch hits for Houston. Fortunately,Farrago happened to be one of them.The ambiance we found was cool and comforting. A favoriteMassive Attack track was playing when we arrived, at a suitablydiscreet volume, blending perfectly with the art on the walls. Althoughwe chose to sit inside, I was very much tempted by a large enclosedpatio, insulated from the street and street noise by other shops andseveral floors of surrounding apartments. In appropriate weather, it isprobably the best seating in the house.The 'medley' theme of the restaurant's name was born out onthe brunch menu, which contained offerings as diverse as CajunBenedict (Eggs Benedict with crawfish cream sauce taking the familiar role of hollandaise), a hummus and tabbouleh combo plate, and aselection of pizzas, as well as more expected offerings like omeletsand fruit salad.My companion and I decided on the Spinach and Feta Soufflé,the Hummus and Tabbouleh Combo, and decided to see how much of a dent we might make on a pizza—specifically, the Goat Cheese Pizzawith Sun-Dried Tomato vinaigrette, spinach, red onion, and PortabelloMushroom.Food orders taken care of, we moved on to the beverage menu,
Cuizine Magazine: Houston's only free publication dedicated to ...file:///home/martin001/Documents/cuizine_reviews/Farrago.html1 of 309/03/2009 10:58 AM
Saffron Moroccan CuisineTacos A Go-GoTart CafeTe House of TeaThe Lodge at Bayou BendTTR Wine CafeZula
starting off with a frozen Bellini, and a Bloody Mary. The Bloody Mary isdescribed on the menu as Farrago's "very own mix". Be advised that itis quite spicy, with enough pepper and horseradish to clear anelephant's sinuses. By contrast, the garnish was quite understated—instead of the small forest of celery stalks, parsley sprigs andwhatnot that load down the rim of many a Mary, Farrago's version ishumbly adorned with a mere olive and a lime wedge. If you like your Marys with a bite, it's a great eye-opener.The frozen Bellini was considerably more understated—not toosweet, with a peach taste that seemed to derive from something notfar removed from actual peaches, rather than the syrupy synthetic gunkall too many bars rely on. Perhaps it was simply because we hadarrived early and gotten the first drinkable Bellini out of the machine,but the cocktail made a good impression on us both.Our food arrived not long after the drinks. Although all threeplates got high marks for presentation, the hummus and tabboulehcombo made a particularly striking first impression, very much livingup to the restaurant's name. The olive-tinted Thai Curry Hummus andthe green and gold Mandarin Orange Tabbouleh were complementedby a small salad of mixed greens. The salad was lightly dressed witha citrus honey-mustard mixture, and the tabbouleh dressed with atzatziki-like sauce with a distinctive hint of mint. All remaining availablespace on the plate was taken up quarters of whole-wheat pita.The Spinach and Feta Souffle arrived atop a zesty LemonBeurre Blanc, and was itself topped with a pico de gallo-like TomatoTapenade. The subtle reds of the tapenade visually brought out thespinach in the souffle in a restrained harmony that anticipated theblending of their respective flavors. The plate was garnished with a'toasted cheese stick' of puff pastry that would later prove mosteffective at soaking up the beurre blanc.The Goat Cheese Pizza was a surprise in more ways than one.We had ordered a 'Petit' with the expectation that it would serve as anappetizer. We were wrong. The eight inch crust was well-suppliedwith toppings, the Portabello slices being particularly generous.Visually, it was an exuberant abundance, with large dollops of goatcheese lightly browned from the oven atop healthy handfuls of freshspinach, seared to a rich dark green.As we began to taste, we were first impressed with thehummus and most impressed with the pizza. The additions of curryand garlic made for one of the best hummus mixtures I had ever tasted, with a smoky, herbal aftertaste I could not identify, only enjoy.The orange flavor of the accompanying tabbouleh worked well with thetexture—big, almost meaty kernels of bulgar wheat, in contrast to themore finely milled wheat more commonly encountered. The orangeflavoring was not a 'big' flavor, but it worked particularly well with thegenerous amounts of fresh parsley, and was nicely set off by the tasteof mint in the sauce. The accompanying salad was a competent affair of field greens, but nothing extraordinary—not that it needed to be.The souffle worked well, as long as one made a point of gettingthe souffle, the sauce, and the tapenade in the same bite. By itself, thesouffle was rich but somewhat bland. The beurre blanc improved
Cuizine Magazine: Houston's only free publication dedicated to ...file:///home/martin001/Documents/cuizine_reviews/Farrago.html2 of 309/03/2009 10:58 AM

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