There’s something alluring about Mark’s American Cuisine. Maybe it’s the 1920′s renovated church that houses the restaurant. Could it possibly be the fact that the eatery is known as Houston’s “Most Romantic Restaurant”? Another idea is because of the world class cuisine prepared daily by West Virginia born Chef Mark Cox. We think it’s a collaboration of all of these that makes this fine dining locale so intriguing to the scores of diners who patronize the location.
A variety of warmed sliced breads appears before you are aware of it by a long-time veteran server of the restaurant. The butter is molded into the eatery’s logo “M”, and colorful blue covers of the menu conceal culinary delights inside that will leave you anxious to experience.
The interior of the former church is exquisitely maintained. One look around from the loft upstairs and the “what was” shows through the “what is” of the building. Craftsmanship at every turn proves what a spectacular structure the now upscale restaurant thrives within. Hand painted walls, shiny ceilings, and memories of days gone by many sermons and years later enhance the charm and elegance of the structure. If you’re looking for a conversation piece dining establishment, this is definitely it!
Chardonnay, Orange Crush & Summer Citrus Cocktails
Our evening began with cocktails from the very distinct beverage list for the evening. I decided on the Orange Crush, made with Charbay Blood Orange Vodka, Cointreau, orange juice and Champagne. The flavorsome fruity taste mixed with the bubbly carbonation from the sparkling wine was pleasing to experience, while the visual presentation was simplistic being served in a traditional martini glass with a blood orange slice balanced on the rim. My husband thought the sound of the Summer Citrus cocktail sounded refreshing. The Cointreau Noir, Belvedere Lemon Tea Vodka, grapefruit juice and splash of lemon-lime soda made it just that. Presented in sizable drinking vessels, these were indeed the perfect beverages for a warm summer evening.
We moved forward with the Pear Salad. This trio of saffron, caramelized and Scarlet Comice pear was joined with fresh colorful arugula, creamy goat’s cheese, herb mousse and spiced pecans all tossed lovingly in a summer herb vinaigrette. Large enough for the two of us to share, this course was a satisfying light and healthy precursor to what lied ahead.
The entrée entitled simply, “Duck” on the menu arrived in a splendorous veil of color and aromatic splendor. The fire roasted breast of Muscovy and slow roasted duck leg delivered a definite richness that we were both ready to indulge in. Red Mountain and Jasmine rice was added to the plate, while an addition of vibrantly colored raspberries, bing cherries and logan fruit completed this medley of flavors.
Another simply titled dish of the night was my order of the veal presentation. Grilled to perfection the tenderloin and glazed short rib was seared with Madeira then accompanied by Forestiere mushroom risotto, tender white asparagus, a spinach flan, and mushrooms in a Marsala sauce.
Stone Fruit Harvest Cake
We had the fortunate luck to personally meet Sam Major, the Pastry Chef at Mark’s American Cuisine. His explanation of his creation of spiced almond cake joined by honey roasted apricots and cherry compote topped with a brown sugar meringue enhanced with a scoop of cherry crème Fraiche ice cream was like listening to an artist telling of his love of his specialized talent. We could understand his love of the craft, and it certainly showed in each bite of the dessert we were offered.
An upscale dining establishment worth every penny to experience such a unique atmosphere, we were simply delighted to no end with everything Mark’s American Cuisine had to offer us on this particular evening.
ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The former church-turned-restaurant exhibits charm, warmth, unique details everywhere you look, and a feeling of extreme comfort.
- FOOD / DRINK: Superior menu creations artfully balanced with unforgettable presentation style by Chef Mark Cox and his culinary staff will thrill, dazzle, and inspire anyone who steps foot inside this establishment. If you have gluten-free or vegetarian requirements, just let the hostess know when you make your reservation, and that will be arranged to your preference through the kitchen.
- LOCATION: Mark’s American Cuisine is located at 1658 Westheimer Road in Houston, Texas 77006.
- HOURS: Mark’s is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 AM until 2 PM. Dinner service is available Monday through Thursday from 5:30 PM to 10 PM, on Fridays from 5:30 PM to 11 PM, on Saturdays from 5 PM to 11 PM, and on Sunday evenings from 5 PM until 10 PM.
- SERVICE / STAFF: Most of the serving staff have been at the restaurant for a very long time. We were highly impressed and entertained by our server’s wit, knowledge of the menu and restaurant, and constant attention without being too overbearing. His name was Marco, and we truly hope that you have the pleasure of being seated in his area of the establishment when dining at this eatery.
- PRICE / VALUE: You will pay a bit more at Mark’s American Cuisine for a spectacular dinner. Between the cuisine, the service, and the overall experience you will find yourself convinced that dinner at Mark’s is worth every penny just as we were.
- CORKAGE FEE: Unfortunately, no outside alcohol is allowed into the restaurant, however there is an extensive wine list and refreshing cocktails that will suit any craving for libations you may have.
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (713) 523-3800, Website: www.marks1658.com
- PARKING: Valet parking is complimentary to all of Mark’s American Cuisine diners and vehicles are kept in a private lot while you dine inside.
- PRICING: My selection of the Orange Crush cocktail was offered at $13.50, while my husband’s Summer Citrus Cooler came in at a decent $12. The Pear Salad was an acceptable $13.95. I indulged in the Duck offering for $29.95, while my husband’s Veal presentation came in at a solid $42.95. The Stone Fruit Harvest Cake was an easy $11.95. After dinner, we enjoyed a couple of glasses of the Davis Family Vineyards 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay at $17 per glass.
* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.