Goodbye Jazz, Hello Pop

In many ways, Josh Mease is a typical graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. After spending years studying jazz guitar under the highly regarded teacher Dr. Robert Morgan, Mease moved to New York City to continue his musical training and take in the city’s bustling live jazz scene.

Best in Show

Jim Burwell spends his days driving between River Oaks, Memorial, and West University with a fanny pack full of moist lamb loaf. The loaf, a two-pound roll that comes in a tightly packed tube like Jimmy Dean sausage, is among the more effective tools of his trade. Burwell is a dog trainer, and his unofficial specialty is handling wealthy pups—ones that split their days between three states, go to camp twice a week, and have agility courses in their upstairs ballrooms.

Corner Table

Longtime chef-restaurauteur Bruce Molzan is hoping to breathe life into the old, often shuttered Brownstone complex. Private-party venues augment the smallish dining area, whose menu offers burgers, pizzas, and even “paleo” dishes, as in the unprocessed foods “our ancestors would have eaten.” We doubt they would have recognized the Paleo Buffalo Wings, and neither did our table’s one-time resident of that fair city.

Roots Bistro

Several hits and a few misses marked our visit to this pretty inner Westheimer spot presided over by chef Chandler Rothbard. The mantra is “Local, organic, green,” which translates to dishes like raw beet “ravioli,” thinly sliced and layered with cashew crème and tarragon, and fire-roasted oyster and cremini mushrooms served on a stone with a smoking piece of wood. The bone-in pork chop and the braised veal mac and cheese, rich and creamy with white cheddar, fontina, and goat cheese, were both terrific.

Pizaro’s Pizza Napoletana

We’ve had a few “best pizza ever” moments: Rome, Naples, Chicago, and now, west Houston. The pizzaiolo here turns out seriously good pie, like a white pizza with garlic, cremini mushrooms, Boursin, and house-made mozzarella. We gushed over the Calabrese, with spicy soppressata and basil on a thin crust with a slight char and that delicate crunch that opens to soft, chewy goodness. You can carry out your pizza (no phone orders), but the pizza is primo right after its 90 seconds in the wood-fired brick oven.

Costa Brava Bistro

With a neighborly feel appropriate to its Bellaire locale, this cozy gem features a menu of elegant Spanish and French bites. We did a bit of fork-fighting over our appetizers: grilled octopus bites with patatas in a fruity olive oil and pimentón and a seafood salad of calamari, crab, and shrimp aside arugula and charred tomatoes.

RDG + Bar Annie

Chef-owner Robert Del Grande knows his way around a kitchen. Some of his dishes, updated here and there, hark back to the original Cafe Annie, like the black bean terrine: a colorful mix of beans, tomato, goat cheese, and avocado, it seems to have gotten lighter and fresher through the years. The chilled soups are stellar, like a sweet corn concoction with cotija cheese and smoked chile and a pea soup with pea greens, crème fraîche, and mint.

La Fisheria

Aquiles Chaves, Mexico’s Anthony Bourdain, woos Houstonians with his contemporary Mexican seafood in an arrestingly colorful cottage setting (which is not enhanced by hard wooden furniture). We grazed our way through crunchy mini-tostadas (topped with yellowfin tuna, avocado, and frizzles of fried leeks), which outdid an entrée of red snapper pibil-style atop mashed sweet potatoes. Expect culinary surprises and upscale prices. 


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