PaperCity Magazine

September 2018- Houston

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104 THE NEW CLASSICS BY LAURANN CLARIDGE. PHOTOGRAPHY JULIE SOEFER. Vietnamese pork chop H ouston restaurateur B e n j y L e v i t i s always ahead of the curve. Before anyone was doing l o c a l , o r g a n i c , and sustainable, he was quietly employing all three at his popular eateries, Local Foods and Benjy's. His newest endeavor, The Classic All Day, explores new territory by focusing on fare that's timeless, comforting, and — above all — classic. In the former space of Benjy's on Washington, he and chef Mike Potowski (who has collaborated on concepts with Levit for 11 years), along with chef Maria Gonzalez, serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, with service continuous throughout the morning and into the eve. Standout breakfast items, served 8 to 11 am weekdays, include baby Dutch pancakes ($12) and almond chia ($12); weekend brunch hours are until 3 pm. Morning hits such as the protein-loaded grain bowl ($13) and the hearty pork and eggs ($9) are also available on the all-day menu. Mining their childhoods for inspiration, Levit and Potowski hit upon flavor-packed dishes such as matzo ball soup with a dark, rich chicken broth ($5). Potowski, whose heritage is Japanese and Lithuanian, introduces us to pelmeni, a Lithuanian- style dumpling. This vegetarian version is filled with mushrooms, rye, and hazelnuts, pan-fried and topped with crème fraiche and red pepper purée ($8). From his Japanese roots, he serves forth a kitschy fave from his early years: bucatini napolitan (note, not Neapolitan), a play on the Japanese take on Italian spaghetti. Potowski elevates the dish with guanciale, pork sausage, and a house-made tomato ketchup facsimile ($14). Dessert brings mom's greatest hits — "mom" being Momma Levit, who still bakes for her son's eateries — a moist carrot cake and decadent chocolate cake. But the dessert menu also presents a surprising option: taro ice cream, made in their soft-serve ice cream machine, that's worth every indulgent bite. This new American bistro — 5,000 feet inside and 1,100 more outside — was designed by Austin architect Michael Hsu with interiors by Aaron Rambo, who plays with bold color and geometric wallpapers. It all comes together with an ode to Levit's Houston roots via a vintage 1891 aerial view of the city that covers the walls of one of the sunlit dining alcoves. Steve Henry, of Gregory/Henry Landscapes, has dressed up the patio with lush greenery; soon he'll design the organic roof garden with a sustainable irrigation system to foster the growth of Potowski's heirloom vegetables and herbs. The Classic All Day, 5922 Washington Ave., 713.868.1131, Chef E.J. Miller Baby Dutch pancake

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