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So I was recently invited to try out the new “Haute July at Tony’s” menu. Tony’s is an institution in Houston and a great place for fine dining.

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This particular menu will be available through the end of July. It’s such a steal as you get three courses plus WINE with each course as well as a house infused Grappa with dessert – all for $59. True fine dining (the kind you can get dressed up for) at this price is amazing.

I started the evening with a glass of Loggia Prosecco and a shot of Heirloom Garden Soda. And no, it wasn’t actually fizzy soda. Instead this was a cold vegetable soup served with a fried slice of zucchini on top.

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After cleansing or whetting or whatever you like your bubbles to do for your palate, it was time to try out the courses.

First Course

For the first course, there is the option of either the Orecchiette Genovese or the Insalata Milano. The Orecchiette was so rich and delicious.

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The pasta was served with Hen of the Woods mushroom, prosciutto, summer peas and a hint of truffle. Wow! I seriously could have just had this and nothing else.

The Insalata Milano was a work of art and equally delicious.

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Creamy burrata (which is not always easy to find), prosciutto, treviso (which is just a red, spear-shaped variety of radicchio), and figs worked together to create the perfect cool summer salad. Figs are in season and it’s great to see the different ways they are utilized in summer cuisines. And I’ll admit I’m generally not a huge fan of radicchio but this combination worked so well.

This first course was paired with a 2012 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner from the Alto Adige area of Italy.

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Kerner was a completely new grape for me. It originated in Germany and was created by crossing Riesling and Trollinger. Today it is grown in the Alto Adige region of Italy where it has achieved DOC status. It was a dark golden color and quite aromatic which makes sense given its “parents.” Nice floral aromas gave way to a full-bodied wine with very nice acidity and flavors of honey, green apple, and a bit of spice. It paired well with both with the richness of the pasta well as the crispness of the salad. A very food friendly wine.

Second Course

The second course was a choice of Seared Mediterranean Branzino or the Tony’s Way Center Cut Filet.

I’m a hug fan of branzino so I was excited to see this.

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And this one was done right with nice, flavorful, crispy skin and was served with Tuscan beans (which are just white kidney beans), salsa verde, and truffled almonds. I never understand why some people don’t eat the crispy skin from fish. It’s the best part. I didn’t “get” how the almonds fit in with the dish so I just ate them on their own. They were truffled so how could I go wrong?

And I must say that “Tony’s Way” on the Tony’s Way Center Cut Filet is divine. It was as artful as it was delicious.

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A fork tender filet served with a Porcini Fondo Bruno sauce and topped with sautéed veal bone marrow. This dish was amazing! And it was served with Silken Potatoes which were piped out of a container that I usually see used with whipped cream. I’m sure there’s a name for it but whatever it’s called, it was a nice touch.

The second courses were paired with a 2012 Poggio Brigante Morellino di Scansano. OK, it was a Sangiovese.

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This was light to medium bodied, with lower tannin level, and nice red fruit. It too was food friendly. And I will admit that when eating fish, I always play it safe and go with a white wine. If I order a red, I generally lean towards a Pinot Noir. This is particularly true given that the branzino is a mild, white fish. But this Sangiovese worked so well because of how light bodied it was in addition to its acidity.

Third Course

The final course was the Il Sogno, which was a delectable Angel Food cake, with blackberries, and a Limoncello Cream.

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Oh my! This was sooo good! I was only able to take a couple of bites and really wished I had more room for this. But Thing 1 and Thing 2 were happy with me bringing home “their” dessert. They also brought out a small plate of various cookies, chocolates, and other dessert bites as well as their famous cotton candy.

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This final course was served with a choice of house made Grappa. There were five choices available including Blueberry, Peach, Plum, Cherry, and one more I can’t remember.

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Of course, I couldn’t leave without taking a peek in the wine room, which also serves as (a very chilling) dining room. It was a thing of beauty and I just couldn’t do it any justice with my camera.

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With over 1,100 wines, the wine list is a thing of beauty as well. Really. No, really. I was so amazed by the list. Now of course, there are folks out there that aren’t easily impressed and I say even those folks would give a low whistle to this collection. There are even some wines from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I have my eye on a 1945 Petrus magnum. I just can’t think who I could get to take me to dinner and treat me to one!

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