October 19th, 2011
Plonk: A Sound Choice for a Wine Bistro
In 4 Words: Sound, Chomp, Vino, Adventurous
I first caught wind of Plonk, the new beer & wine bistro in Garden Oaks, a few weeks ago when I heard a friend mention it. She’s a lady about town, so I listen up when she mentions a new place since I’m not as up to speed on things. And by not as up to speed, I mean I told someone about the Arrested Development coming back news and they said, “Yeah, I read about that a few weeks ago.” Oh.
My fella and I decided that Friday we would be cutting edge with the rest of Houston – we were going to Plonk! Each time I said the name, I thought “wow, what an unattractive word. It sounds like something that would hurt or perhaps like one of those bottom feeder fish who get no respect.” Then I looked it up on urbandictionary.com, and the first definition was: “cheap wine.” Then I thought, “wow, what an angelic word. It sounds like something that would spread happiness or perhaps like children laughing in sunshine.”
Friday was one of those days where your Outlook mocks you with meetings until late in the day. I saw that my noon meeting was – hark! – a coveted “Lunch Provided” meeting. I powered through the morning with coffee, placing my bets on a lunch that would be tasty. My hopes were dashed upon arriving to find the table semi-filled with sad, mini sandwiches from our cafeteria, some chips, and a plate of cookies. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that, but oy. It looked like the Wal-Mart brand of Jason’s Deli, and let’s be real – Jason’s Deli is kind of the Wal-Mart of catered lunches. Now that I sound like an Office Space person, let’s just say I was pretty hungry by the time 6:30 came around.
We arrived at Plonk pretty easily for just knowing the intersection. I wasn’t expecting it to be in a shopping center, but once we stepped inside it didn’t feel shopping center-y at all. The patio is perfect for lazing about and drinking some wine or beers. We found ourselves a table outdoors, and the nice wait staff let us know to order at the bar when we were ready. The wine and beer lists were impressive, but then again I’m easily impressed. I rarely meet a glass of wine I don’t like. I picked out a glass of cabernet and my boyfriend opted for a blend. He went inside to order, and came back out shortly thereafter but couldn’t remember which glass was which. We smelled both glasses and checked out the legs (wine talk, not a big deal) and pretended we cared or knew how to tell the big difference. In the end I think we ended up switching and liking each other’s choice better. Point? Can’t go wrong!
We started checking out the food, and so many choices tempted us. We decided – me on the hanger steak, him on the Cuban sandwich – and he went inside to order our food and more wine. If it sounds annoying to go inside to keep ordering stuff, it wasn’t. It wasn’t so crowded that you couldn’t get help quickly, and the wait staff/bartenders were all very helpful and knowledgeable. While he was inside I noticed two things: (1) they have this great tree table where a tree is growing in the middle of a round table. Love. (2) The music they play is very, very good. Noticeably good. I know they played The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and New Order’s “Temptation,” and that was enough for me to give the tunes a thumbs up.
Our food arrived, and the presentation was lovely. My hanger steak was cooked perfectly and sat atop a pool of grits that I wouldn’t mind swimming in like an actual pool. SO good. On top were some dainty greens that added some nice color. I eschewed the roasted cauliflower that normally comes with the dish for the baked sweet potato fries, which are four wedges baked and glazed.
The music, the food and wine, the company, and the beginning of a weekend made me giddy, and I said:
Me: This is so great! I even like this clover stuff. It reminds me of when I used to play softball. I would pick the clover while I was in the outfield, and it looked like this.
Him: It sounds like you were really good, honey.
My boyfriend’s Cuban sandwich was pretty tasty as well. The bread was grilled perfectly, but it was a wee bit mustard-y for me. We both saw other dishes we want to try next time. The pizzas look incredible, their burger sounds heavenly, and there is a lot more wine to be tried.
But let me tell you what made my entire dish – the sauce. It was called “agrodolce,” so being the food connoisseur I am I said, “Hmm, Agro. Isn’t that the cornstarch brand? I bet this is made with cornstarch, sugar and drippings.”
[Pork Chomp (yes, "Chomp")]
A few minutes later when the server came by I told him how much I liked the sauce and asked what was in it. He went in to get one of the servers who also works in the kitchen, and she explained how “agrodolce” is a traditional Italian sauce meaning sour/sweet. Plonk makes theirs by charring cipollini onions, reducing them down, and then mixing them with up with some balsamic vinegar and other ingredients.
A ha! Word trickery yet again. I realized the corn starch brand is Argo, not agro, and continued to tell her my corn starch plus drippings theory for some reason. I’m pretty sure she wanted to offer me a cooking gig, but I was too busy taking a sip of wine to let her ask me.
Where – 1214 West 43rd St., Houston, TX 77018
What – Fine wine and dine just outside the Loop
Wear – Casual or dressy, whatever your desire
How much – Any price range; From $12 to $24 pizzas/sandwiches or entrees
When — Sunday-Monday 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM | Tuesday-Thursday 4:00 PM – Midnight | Friday-Saturday 4:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Web – Website; Facebook