Now that dining has become entertainment, chefs and restaurants are challenged to make their dishes or drinks stand out. We're talking about the kind of dish that makes you say, “Um, what is that?!” From half a pig face on your plate to uni in a nest, feast your eyes on these insane menu items.
Uni at MF Sushi
If seen out of context, you might think this dish were a living, breathing creature. Soft pieces of fresh, bright yellow-orange uni are placed on top of a whole Santa Barbara sea urchin shell, which looks more like a purple bird’s nest you would find in an exotic jungle.
1401 Binz St.; 713-637-4587
Jar Jar Duck at Uchi
The Austin-born haunt has garnered an admirable reputation not only for its undeniably delicious sushi selection, but also for its artful, eye-popping presentations. Peel open the lid of this jam-packed mason jar (hence the name) and a puff of thick applewood smoke drifts out to reveal bites of steaming Countryside Farms duck along with candied citrus and endive. Kind of reminds us of letting the genie out of the bottle.
904 Westheimer Rd.; 713-522-4808
Whole Crispy Triggerfish at Underbelly
Chef-owner Chris Shepherd is known for featuring an assortment of creative, highly unique dishes, both in taste and visually. In this case, a whole (giant) bay fish is dredged in rice flour, creating a mysterious ashy appearance, and quickly fried until crispy, then served on a bed of charred green onions. It’s a bit scary looking when the monstrous thing hits your table with its midsection gaping open.
1100 Westheimer Rd.; 713-528-9800
The Detention Burger at Bernie's Burger Bus
You'll get in trouble with this one. Picture the biggest, tallest burger you’ve ever eaten. Now replace each regular old bun with a crispy bacon grilled cheese sandwich, then pile on two cheddar cheeseburger patties and a heap of “tipsy” onions. Top that off with your choice of cheese, housemade mayo, mustard, ketchup, pickles, thin-sliced onions, lettuce and slow-roasted garlic tomatoes. Good luck fitting all of that into one bite.
5407 Bellaire Blvd.; 713-349-9400
Half Pig Head at Hay Merchant
Ever wanted to look into the eyes of the animal you’re eating? Chances are slim, but the shocking presentation of this tasty dish makes for great bragging rights and an Instagram post worthy of a double-tap. Large enough for four-six people, the roasted pig head is split down the middle and served with tortillas, lettuce cups, kimchi salsa and pickled vegetables. Pig out.
1100 Westheimer Rd.; 713-528-9805
Nitrogen Root Beer Float at Killen’s Steakhouse
On the ever-changing roster of specialty desserts at this upscale steakhouse, you might find the liquid nitrogen root beer float, which arrives at your table iced down in a huge cloud of nitrogen smoke, like a crazy science project. Clearly, not just your everyday root beer float — this edible art is served with a decadent chocolate hazelnut tart topped with marshmallow cream. That’s some serious dessert.
6425 W. Broadway St., Pearland; 281-485-0844
Blue Crab & Caviar Nachos at Brennan’s
This ain’t your ordinary plate of tortilla chips with beans, cheese and a side of jalapeños. At $100 a pop, these chips are topped with a full pound of Louisiana jumbo lump crab, fire-roasted corn, St. Andre (Brie) queso, avocado, mirlitón pico de gallo and lime crema all heaped high in a fancy copper skillet. Lest we forget, the cherry on top: an ounce of Petrossian caviar.
3300 Smith St.; 713-522-9711
Bloody Mary at Pluckers Wing Bar
Bloody Marys have come a long way since the original recipe of a spicy tomato juice mix with vodka and a celery stick. Now restaurants compete for the title of craziest (and sometimes the tallest) concoction. Houston's resident cocktail is overflowing with garnishes including whole fried chicken wing, mounds of cooked bacon, the wing bar’s famous fried pickle, stuffed olives, pickled green beans, limes, lemons and celery. You’ll get full just looking at it.
1400 Shepherd Dr.; 713-864-9464
The Haute Dog at Max’s Wine Dive
Known for its extravagant, gluttonous dishes, Max’s play on the all-American favorite is much more than your average dog. This amped-up version is topped with venison chili, cotija cheese, pickled jalapeños and a mountain of crispy fried onion strings. And if that’s not enough food for you, it all rests atop a hefty serving of fries. Obscene.
4720 Washington Ave.; 713-880-8737
Inconceiva-Bowl at Nightingale Room
Go big and showy with the Downtown hot spot’s first-ever cocktail served in an exotic tiki-style bowl that serves three to four people. Brightly colored fruit skewers sprout from the sizable flaming concoction, which is a mix of overproof dark Jamaican rums, Falernum, lime, honey and grenadine. Inconceivable!
308 Main St.; 832-968-3370