A Glimpse Into Michael Brown’s Collection of Oddities

Hundreds of Houstonians packed Webster’s Auction Palace this past Sunday to pick through the belongings of Michael Glyn Brown, the late, disgraced hand doctor whose years of erratic and violent behavior had made him one of the most infamous members of Houston society. The theme of Sunday’s bankruptcy auction, the third in Houston from Brown’s estate, was guns and taxidermy, and the room was bedecked accordingly. Moose and hyena skins were stretched along the walls.

Max’s Wine Dive

At seven years old, this Washington Ave pioneer still packs the (small) house for fabulous food, fine wine, and a high-energy crowd. Starters of fried-oyster nachos, pulled pork–stuffed piquillo peppers, or Max’s much-lauded fried chicken sliders could make a praiseworthy meal, but you’d miss some stars on the gourmet comfort food menu. What can be done to make chicken swoon-worthy? Pan-roast it perfectly until the meat is tender and juicy and the skin is cracklin’ and serve it atop rich, creamy wild mushroom risotto.

Carrabba’s

There’s much to applaud about the renovation of this Kirby Italian-food favorite (still operated by the Carrabba family rather than the chain): an expanded, open dining room and bar; lots of counter seating; great lighting; convenient garage parking across the street; and upbeat servers. But it’s the food that keeps us coming back: hefty veal marsala alongside pasta coated with tomatoes, basil, and garlic.

Hai Cang Seafood

This popular spot has the ambience of a dated strip center, but it’s celebratory inside, with table after table of multigenerational families chatting, laughing, and feasting—the very mark of authenticity. Admittedly, we were daunted by the menu, with its 200-plus items, but we took a winning shot at crab-and-white-asparagus soup and duck lettuce wraps, a different take on the ubiquitous chicken version. We liked the Hunan-style crispy fish, a whole tilapia fried and drenched in sweet-and-sour sauce with red and green peppers.

Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette

Every Saturday, mid-afternoon, Liberty is packed with oyster slurpers and chardonnay sippers. Those partial to the deep fryer will be happy to know that our fried shrimp and oysters, on a huge platter, were seasoned right and wearing crunchy batter—and who can pass up those skinny fries? Also nice (if begging for a squirt of lime) was the hunk of tuna steak with grilled whole bok choy and super-rich creamed mushrooms. The only real gaffe was the watery seafood gumbo.

The Ring and I

I was in my thirties when I learned that my grandmother had left me her engagement ring. The ring, from Tiffany circa 1929, is breathtaking: the art deco setting, anchored in a platinum band, holds a substantial emerald as deep in hue as an Irish hillside, flanked by two dazzling, emerald-cut diamonds. Though the stones hardly rival the Chiclet-size rocks I’ve seen on the hands of other Texas women, the effect is nevertheless striking.

A Room With a Brew

Menger Bar, Menger Hotel, San Antonio

If anyone deserves a drink, it’s the traveler. Which is why the hotel bar is such an important amenity. It’s the place where, weary from her journey, a wandering soul marks the end of her drive/flight/walk from the office and toasts her impending vacation/sabbatical/happy hour. At a hotel bar anything can happen. You might wind up in conversation with someone you don’t know, someone from another town, another state, another world. 

Bar None

On a recent weekday morning, while reading on the lawn of Market Square Park (301 Milam, 713-223-2003)—a micro-oasis of red-brick paths and art installations on the northern end of downtown Houston—I took an informal tally of my fellow park dwellers: one 6-year-old ballerina-in-training led by her parents, two retirees with matching pedometers on their waistbands, two dog owners, three dogs, one bench sitter, a dozen office workers in line for breakfast gyr

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