Potente (Houston, TX)

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When in Rome, you do as the Romans do, right?  Well, unless you’re in Houston, TX.  Houston is most known for their barbecue, but sometimes is good to stray away from the norm.  I researched some great Italian restaurants in Houston, but mostly chain restaurants appeared.  I mean, who the hell wants to go to another state and eat at a chain restaurant?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Try something new for goodness sake!  Okay, that was mean, fine, eat your Olive Garden, I bet those bread sticks taste just like they did 27 years ago, don’t they?  Well, thank goodness I found Potente.


Potente is classified as an “Upscale Italian” restaurant, located off of Texas Avenue in Houston.  The restaurant is led by Executive Chef Danny Trace, who puts his spin on modern Italian items which aren’t limited to wild-caught seafood selections, USDA steaks, and house made pastas.  The interior of this restaurant is definitely “date-night’ish” with it’s high ceilings, huge bar cellar, and a menu that lights up when it opens.  A menu that lights up when you open it may not sound like a big deal, but it’s pretty f***ing cool.


I was able to order four items from this restaurant that ranged from Tuna to Veal Cheeks.  I’ll start off with the Tuna before I get into the other dishes.  The Tonno and Foie Gras consisted of Tuna Crudo, Foie Gras shavings, and Caperberry.  If you’re looking for a dish that’s light, refreshing, and creamy than this is the dish for you.  The Tuna tasted fresh and was topped with Jalapeno’s which brought a rich and spicy sensation to my taste buds.  I wanted to try something new during this visit, and the Foie Gras shavings on the Tuna sounded interesting.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t taste any Foie Gras, so that was a bit disappointing.  The flavors in this overall appetizer worked well with each other and this would definitely be a dish I would order consistently.


The next dish that was ordered was the Polipetti Arrostiti.  It consisted of Squid Ink Pasta, Octopus, and Calabrian Chili.  If you’ve never had Squid Ink Pasta, it has a similar taste to whole wheat pasta, so don’t be afraid to try it if you’ve never had it.  The Octopus was a little rubbery, and I hoped that it would be presented differently, but sadly it wasn’t.  The presentation lacked effort, and had the consistency of a poor man’s expensive meal.  It reminded me of when I was in high school, broke, and made oodles and noodles and cut up hot dogs to complete an awesome meal.  Even though the dish was okay, it lacked presentation and effort.


The third dish that was ordered was the Aragosta.  It consisted of Half Lobster Thermidor, Squid Ink Fettuccine, Shiitake Mushrooms, English Peas, and Devil’s Kiss Chili Pepper.  A Half Lobster Thermidor sounds great, but not when it’s a quarter pound lobster.  The Squid Ink Fettucine was good, but the Lobster stole the show.  If you’ve never had Lobster Thermidor, it’s basically a stuffed lobster made with brandy, cheese, and other stuffing then baked.  Shiitake Mushrooms were included in this dish, although I didn’t see or taste any.  If there were any in this dish, I would’ve known, because I eat mushrooms almost everyday.


The last dish that was ordered was the Guanciale Di Vitello Brasato.  It consisted of Amarone Braised Veal Cheeks, Porcini Mushroom Risotto, Petite Arugula, and Roasted Delicata Squash.  Veal Cheeks have the consistency of a light beef, so don’t be shy if you’ve never had Veal Cheeks and wish to order them.  I ordered this dish specifically because it came with a Mushroom Risotto, and I absolutely love Mushroom Risotto.  Well, I could barely taste the mushrooms so I was definitely unhappy with the end result of that.


Overall, this restaurant is nice, but if you have another choice in mind I wouldn’t be upset if you chose that restaurant over this.  This restaurant is beautiful, and has unique flavors, but for the price of these dishes and the ambiance that’s provided I expected a little more.  I’d also like to point out the “Over Waiting” during my experience.  Over Waiting is when the waiter is constantly asking, “how is your food, do you need anything, what do you think of that piece of rice stuck in between your teeth?”  It doesn’t allow you the opportunity to fully enjoy yourself without having someone standing over your shoulder.


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