We were excited to hear about new restaurant projects from Johnny Carrabba, a scion of the famed Mandola restaurant family, and founder of one of Houston's great Italian spots, Carrabba's.
So on a recent weeknight, we met friends before a concert for a meal at Mia's Table, the new fast casual comfort food concept from Carrabba. Mia's is named after his daughter, a charming tradition that continues with his other new spot, Grace's, named after his grandmother.
Mia's is a casual, inviting space, reminiscent of an older (but meticulously maintained) Hill Country home. Patrons order at the counter, and are presented with an eclectic menu of Texas comfort food: Sandwiches, tacos, burgers, and an assortment of fried entrees, from chicken to chicken-fried steak to fried shrimp and snapper. We ordered at the counter from a helpful and friendly teenaged staff member, and were off to find our seats.
The sprawling dining room was filled with families and small groups enjoying an early dinner; the organizer of our gathering had reserved a semi-private space in the rear, away from the hustle and bustle. The room had a distinct energy; patrons were enjoying their meals, laughing, and seemed to be in a boisterous mood. Mia's is not the spot for a quiet, intimate dinner, but it's a great place to hang out with friends and family.
Our food arrived shortly.
No one will be surprised that we had to sample Mia's cheeseburger, an interesting architectural diversion from this classic American staple. The de rigeur beef patty, slightly melted cheese, and fresh veggies were placed on a distinctly oval bun - the two patties were essentially side-by-side, instead of stacked. This is an unusual arrangement, and resulted in a lot more bun than we prefer; we were essentially eating two smallish burgers instead of one big one. The patty was cooked medium well and was slightly dry; the veggies were fresh, and the bun had a nice texture but very little flavor.
All in all, a solid burger, but not one we'd go out of our way to order again.
Next up was the Chicken Fried Chicken, a generous chicken breast breaded in the style of a chicken fried steak (the more traditional Southern Fried Chicken is also available) and topped with cream gravy seasoned with bits of jalapeño.
This dish was a winner - moist, juicy, well-breaded chicken, with a nice peppery kick, accented by just enough cream gravy and a mild jalapeño burn. Balance was the word that came to mind with the chicken; good balance between the meat and the crust, good balance between the fresh chicken flavor, the creamy gravy, and the spicy counterpoints.
Sides were a mixed bag. Mashed potatoes were very good; creamy, smooth, with just enough pepper to be interesting. Green beans were uninspired, limp, and lacking in flavor.
All in all, Mia's is a nice addition to the Kirby restaurant scene. It's a great spot for families and groups looking for a quick bit of Texas-style comfort food in an upscale but casual setting.
We'll be back.
Mia's Kitchen | 3131 Argonne Street | Houston, Texas 77098 | 713-522-6427 | miastable.com
Out here in the Woodlands we've got more than our share of foodies. No matter where you go, you overhear people talking about food: What's the new hot place, what's about to open, where's the best place for a steak. Some even take photos of their food.
|Not a Woodlands Area Foodie|
But folks who say these things could be anyone... not necessarily a real foodie. As a public service, we'd like to humbly offer the following list to help identify real Woodlands Area Foodies:
Your friends message you when they can't decide where to eat. They may or may not invite you to come along.
Cary Attar greets you by name when you walk into Fielding's. You don't expect him to feed you for free.
Your iPhone's camera roll contains more photos of your meals than of your kids.
You first noticed Chef Austin Simmons when he was the sous at Tesar's. And you happily devour whatever he's offering as a special that night at Hubbell & Hudson Bistro. You don't expect him to feed you for free.
You belong to three different Facebook foodie groups, but only admit to two of them.
You find yourself at 11pm driving across Houston to a restaurant where you won't speak the language just because Tom Nguyen said that the food was superb. As always, Tom was right.
You know whether Phil Nicosia is in the house at Pallotta's before you walk in the door. You don't expect him to feed you for free.
You get sad thinking about Jay Stone's late, lamented Wicked Whisk food truck. But you cheer up after you pledge your support for his Chingu project.
You have no problem having lunch at Twin Peaks, but you wouldn't set foot in Hooter's or Bikini's.
You see nothing wrong with having a second lunch when friends message you from Hello Taco. Or a third when they've ventured down the street to Viva Itacate.
You get excited to find a great new place for chicken fried steak in the Woodlands. But you hold off visiting until Kim Bellini states whether the cream gravy meets with her approval.
You run into at least four friends on Saturday morning waiting in line for Corkscrew BBQ to open. You don't expect them to feed you for free... but you enjoy the free beer they're providing.