One of the best things about Houston is the endless list of good restaurants to try. Safina needs to be at the top of that list.
Floor to ceiling windows, beautiful décor that is both colorful and textural, Safina will brighten up even the gloomiest day in Houston’s world-renowned Texas Medical Center. Located inside the Intercontinental Hotel, Safina has become a cool kid hangout with its own rotation of neighborhood regulars, hotel guests, and Texas Medical Center folk.
The menu at Safina is local, seasonal, and Executive Chef Tiago Almeida of Four Seasons fame is at the helm in the kitchen. Safina is the tasty respite you’ve been looking for, and we’ve highlighted a few menu items that can’t be missed.
Brussels sprouts have peaked. They’ve had their heyday on every menu, and you’ve eaten them broiled, grilled and seared with every pork preparation imaginable. Friends, you haven’t had the Brussels sprouts at Safina and you have to, because they will be the reason you return. When Executive Chef Almeida recommended the Crispy Brussels Sprouts, he mentioned they were a restaurant staple that his regulars wouldn’t let come off the menu. My attention was peaked. He was right, they are the perfect combination of crispy and saucy (Lucky Layla Butter and anchovies). Tossed with toasted almonds, dill and pomegranate seeds, they’re also a beautiful feast for the eyes.
Hummus is where my heart is and if you are the same, this hummus will make you sublimely happy. With a tasty sprinkle of herbs on top and crispy seasoned pita chips – you can’t go wrong. There is no need for an Instagram photo, just get in there and dunk to your heart’s content.
To round out the starter options, the Prosciutto & Melon flatbread with prosciutto Americano, honeydew, cantaloupe, white balsamic and mint is excellent. The impossibly crispy flatbread is the perfect vessel to marry the robust combination of flavors.
There is nothing about the Asparagus Risotto that isn’t good. Creamy risotto with a lovely green hue and the perfect amount of cheese. Saying this dish is fresh and incredibly satisfying doesn’t do it justice, but both are completely accurate.
Chef Almeida again recommended a dish and after tasting his first recommendation of Crispy Brussel Sprouts, it was obvious the second recommendation should be heeded. Out came the Pan Roasted Salmon with lemon pomme puree, piperade and cilantro oil (shown at the top of this article). Pomme Puree may be a fancy way to say mashed potatoes, but these weren’t just any potatoes – they were seasoned with lemon, which added a light touch to the roasted salmon. Fancy or not – the dish was delicious.
It is quite possible that everything on the dessert menu is exceptional, but let’s talk about the Abuelita Hot Chocolate Sorbet. It’s every hot chocolate lover’s fantasy come true – velvety sorbet with the sassiness of Abuelita Hot Chocolate’s spices. Cold or hot outside, it doesn’t matter – this dessert satisfies no matter the season.
Cover: Pan Roasted Salmon. Photo courtesy Safina Houston
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. You can usually find her at a great local restaurant or out exploring HTX with her family. Visit her on Instagram @gabioftheroses_htx