BEST BET: STRAW­BERRY SHORT­CAKE

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Go Eat -

For the past few weeks, I’ve passed a sign on U.S. 72 invit­ing peo­ple to stop and pick their own straw­ber­ries. I want straw­ber­ries, but I want to pick them off a plate with a fork — like, maybe, a plate with straw­berry short­cake on it.

I heard Hous­ton’s had straw­berry short­cake, so I de­cided to check it out. The first good sign was when Austin Ni­chols, one of the res­tau­rant’s greeters, de­scribed the dessert as “yummy.” “It’s ex­tremely good,” said server Spencer Far­rar. And server Les­lie Roby said the dessert is “divine.”

They all were cor­rect. The dessert, which sells for $8, was deca­dently good.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had straw­ber­ries and lit­er­ally “short­cake.” When I was grow­ing up, my mother served straw­ber­ries on a stiff meringue shell. The straw­ber­ries and juice would spill all over the shell. It tasted great.

Hous­ton’s doesn’t use short­cake, ei­ther; they use a scone that in­cludes lemon zest and poppy seeds. It’s served with home­made whipped cream.

Hous­ton’s chef Ed­uardo Murillo was a mem­ber of the team that cre­ated Hous­ton’s straw­berry short­cake five or six years ago. They used the scone be­cause they “just wanted to give a Hous­ton’s sig­na­ture,” Murillo said. “We started with the round sweet bis­cuit, but it’s pretty much what all the restau­rants do. ... We de­cided to do some­thing in a dif­fer­ent shape.”

The straw­ber­ries were large, plump and very sweet. Murillo prefers smaller straw­ber­ries, which he says are even sweeter. They just clean the straw­ber­ries and don’t add any sugar. They just want the “nat­u­ral sweet­ness of the straw­berry.”

Murillo likes to use lo­cally grown fruit. You’ll find him se­lect­ing straw­ber­ries at places like farm­ers mar­ket at Agri­cen­ter In­ter­na­tional.

They of­fer the dessert “only dur­ing straw­berry sea­son. ... We stop when the qual­ity is not what we want to serve.”

Don’t look for straw­berry short­cake on the menu; Hous­ton’s doesn’t of­fer it ev­ery day, so ask.

I or­dered cof­fee with my straw­berry short­cake, but Hous­ton’s ser­vice man­ager J. R. Rinkes told me, “It’s even bet­ter with a glass of cham­pagne.”

Hous­ton’s is at 5000 Po­plar; (901) 683-0915. — Michael Don­ahue: (901) 529-2797;

don­ahue@com­mer­cialap­peal.com

hosts “Charles Lind­bergh’s Trans-at­lantic Flight 85th An­niver­sary Din­ner” at 7 p.m. in

$85 in­cludes valet park­ing; wine pair­ing is an ad­di­tional $30. A re­cre­ation of the din­ner served at the ho­tel in Lind­bergh’s honor in 1927. For reser­va­tions, call (901) 529-4188.

Michael Don­ahue/the Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

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