Houston Restaurant Weeks: Hearsay Gastro Lounge

Categories: Restaurant News

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Chuck Cook Photography
This outstanding red and gold beet salad was the best part of our HRW lunch at Hearsay Gastro Lounge

What they're up to for Restaurant Weeks: Three course lunch for $20 and three course dinner for $35. The price is right and the historic, brick and mirror-walled space is stunning. The lunch entrée selections are the Hearsay burger, grilled salmon and chicken picatta. All entrees come with side items.

Service/Atmosphere: We visited for lunch at 12:30 p.m. on Friday and it was 100 percent packed with a short wait (even with a reservation). The service was friendly and earnest but it could not make up for the lackluster food and incompetently made cocktails.

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Chuck Cook Photography
Our pick for the best lunch choice at Hearsay is its burger

Items that won't be on the regular menu: For lunch, the chicken picatta, grilled salmon, chocolate cake (different than the Domino cake) and cheesecake are only available on the HRW menu.

Don't Miss This Dish: If you are going to go for lunch, The Hearsay Burger might be the best bet. I recommend starting with the beet salad, which was the best part of our meal. The burger comes with fries and the third course is dessert (but don't get too excited about that yet). Not in a burger mood? The second choice is the grilled salmon. The competent preparation compensated for the accompanying salty mushroom risotto and steamed asparagus with nary a trace of seasoning.

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Chuck Cook Photography
The overdone and dry chicken makes the picatta our least favorite pick for HRW lunch at Hearsay.
Don't Bother: Skip the overcooked chicken picatta with hardly a trace of lemon. The worst part of the meal were the desserts, which seemed like they came from a wholesale service. The cheesecake was standard issue but the chocolate cake was mushy with far too many layers of frosting and too little cake.

Based on our experience on Friday, don't bother getting a cocktail to go along with your meal. For our party of three, two of the drinks were watered down and inaccurate. Why would anyone put jalapeño in an El Diablo (where the heat and spice should come from ginger) or shake a Manhattan variant (called the "Manfiggen") to the point that it's the color of iced tea? We also weren't informed until we sent the two seriously flawed drinks back that they were out of a key ingredient: the fig-infused bourbon for the Manfiggen. I'm still not sure what they used instead for the replacement drink and the second El Diablo was worse than before, not better. We were informed there were trainees making the drinks. I sympathize with needing to train bartenders, but there should have been some expert supervision before those drinks made it out to customers.

Final verdict: A disappointing visit. The last time I was there, it was much better. I can only assume it was an off day, but my companions and and I agree that we are in no hurry to go back. Regardless, kudos to Hearsay for participating in a very worthwhile cause.

Location Info

Hearsay Gastro Lounge

218 Travis, Houston, TX

Category: Music


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9 comments
texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

I went to Brasserie 19 a couple of years ago thinking I could help the needy and get an awesome meal at a great price, but as soon as the waiter found out we were there for the Restaurant Week menu, the entire vibe changed and we were left feeling that we were a burden on the staff, sad because this campaign is supposed to make both the business owners and patrons feel good...

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

This seems to be the norm for most "hyped" places during restaurant week.....

43Fermi
43Fermi

Have they siphoned off what little remaining talent was at Hearsay in order to bouy up their latest handicapped peacock, Mr. Peeple's?

barleyvine
barleyvine

Agree.  If you as a restaurant owner feel's that HRW is over burdening you and your staff, then don't participate, no one is forcing you too.  If you are participating, do so with a smile.  I use it as an opportunity to check out places I haven't had the chance too, and if I enjoy myself, I make it a point to go back and spend a little more money.  Its a great opportunity for restautrants to make a top notch first impression and drive more business their way.

phaedra.cook
phaedra.cook

@43Fermi I honestly don't know. The staff was extremely nice and the menu looks good, but the execution needs help. I  feel bad having to say anything negative about a place raising money for a good cause, but there are many, many places to choose from for HRW. This project is about guiding people to the best bets. 

One of the people with me had never been to Hearsay before and will not likely ever return now. Hearsay needs to bring their A game during this opportunity to win some new regulars.

phaedra.cook
phaedra.cook

@barleyvine @texmex01 I had a similar experience at a different restaurant two years ago where a server actively dissuaded us from ordering from the HRW menu. We ignored him, of course. The food was mediocre and we never returned. I agree with Barleyvine in that if it's too much of a burden for the restaurant to participate, they shouldn't.

 On the other hand, I'd been told by restaurant owners that it's a "dammed if you do, dammed if you don't" scenario. Because so much of Houston's dining market is on the hunt for HRW meals, the ones that don't participate will be missing out on business.

I think experiences like these are the exception, not the rule. Most restaurant personnel are positive and enthusiastic about it and I usually have a great time.

Vandalia
Vandalia

@phaedra.cook @43Fermi  

Hearsay has had an A game for exactly 4-5 weeks of its rather prolonged existence. They need to sell to someone with restaurant experience and go back to medicine or stationery or oil or whatever they were doing. Nice building is about the kindest thing I can say.

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