Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: t'afia

There's a nice restaurant down the street from our apartment called t'afia (it means "to your health," from "ratafia," which is a wine traditionally used in toasts and while making deals, "ratafia"=ratify the deal). I decided that we should go, as the menu looked interesting and we're trying to avoid going to chain restaurants while we are in Houston.

First experience: Calling for reservations. Initially, I made a 5:30 reservation (welcome to parenthood), but when Nathan called to say his last meeting went late I called to change it to six.

Me: Can I push our reservation to six?

Guy on the other end (I'm picturing a trendy Asian): Hmmmmm. Well, hmmmm, I think we can manage that.

Me: Great, thank you, bye.

When we got there, out of about fifteen tables, there were people at about four of them. How they managed to find us a table, I will never know.

Second experience: Valet parking. Oh my heck I hate how every restaurant in Houston nicer than Chipotle has "complimentary" (read: tip not included) valet parking--meaning they cone off all the nearby parking spaces so if you don't want to pay some high school dropout three dollars to park your car five feet from the entrance you have to park down the block!!! So annoying. But I was feeling rushed and rich, so I opted for valet parking.

Oh wow, look at all that available parking. Too bad it's a lie.

We have a beater car: a '96 Honda Accord with a puncture wound in the bumper and more scrapes and dents than we can count. With all the miles that little trashy car has seen, I don't think it's ever been valet parked. Until that day. Now it can die a happy little car (but please not until Nathan graduates).

Third experience: The waiter. He is the usual at places like this: pale, dark-haired, dressed all in black, presumably plays the mandolin or something equally trendy, and probably considers himself superior even though his job involves doing what I tell him to do, and his wages are determined largely by whatever I want to pay him--basically, he is my servant. Case in point:

Us: We both want waters.

Pale waiter: Still?

Us: Uhhh?

Pale waiter: (condescending smile starts to creep up) Not carbonated. We offer still or sparkling water.

Nathan: (noticing on the menu that water is $1 a table--purified and unlimited) We just want tap water.

Pale waiter: It is tap water. We purify it.

Me: Ok. (Uh, I like my water poisonous, free and poisonous)

Pale waiter: Is this your first time here?

Nathan: Yeah.

Pale waiter: I could tell. (leaves)

Me: Excuse me?? How could you tell? I changed out of my sweat pants for this!

Fourth experience: The food. First, for how much we paid for this meal, I am appalled we didn't get free bread. Come on, Macaroni Grill gives me free bread, why can't t'afia? Free bread is like ... free bread: awesome.

I ordered pistachio-encrusted salmon. Nathan ordered beef cube something. Mine was good, but too small for the price. Nathan's was excellent, and we found the recipe online, courtesy of the chef. Bonus points for sharing her secrets.

Apparently she was on Top Chef. She looks friendly.
What I ordered.

Desert was, again, good but small. Chocolate cherry bread pudding it was, and its volume was about a cup.

We also got some mocktails which were weird but yummy. There was the "coco loco," with coconut nectar (we all know you mean "milk") and fresh pineapple juice, and then the "jamaica spritzer" with hibiscus flower syrup (got to try that on my waffles next time), muddled (Mormon translation: smashed) lime, mint, and soda. I like that they had mocktails. I think it reveals a desire to accommodate and a creativity that goes beyond depending on alcohol or Coke products to hydrate your customers. Also they are a great excuse to overcharge for fruit juice.

The Muddler--the villain in the next Batman

Fifth experience: Overall. From feeling out of place while the lone female diner next to us photographed her plate of cheese to being snarked at by the waiter, I give t'afia four out of five stars on the snobby organic local foodie scale. Ambiance: four. Food quality: four point five. Food quantity: two point five.

Overall: three. We might go back because Tuesday-Thursday they basically have (free) tapas when you buy a drink. It's too bad the waiter was such a piece of snail meat.

1 comment:

  1. So, is it OK if I serve you my meatloaf when you come? Sans the waiter?


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