PaperCity Magazine

November 2018- Houston

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50 W hen was the last time a local menu offered to add collagen p e p t i d e s t o your smoothie, sprinkle pine- nut dukkah atop your greens, or start your day with raw adaptogenic granola. Such healthful and socially conscious choices have arrived at Vibrant, a sleek new restaurant in the former stead of McGowen Cleaners on Fairview. It all began when former assistant museum curator Kelly Barnhart aspired to eat clean and raise her daughter on nutritious fare but knew her kitchen skills weren't as sharp as her eye for art. She hired wellness blogger Alison Wu ("Wu Haus") out of Portland, Oregon, to develop a seasonal menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options, incorporating locally sourced and organic ingredients. Then she asked wunderkind chef Omar Pereney (now with A la Carte Consulting) to scale Wu's organic, plant-rich recipes — which are free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugars — for commercial use. With the help of architect Kelly Weckman of Lake | Flato, restaurant newbie Barnhart converted the building into a self-sustaining environment with solar power, herb and vegetable gardens, and a compost pile outside the kitchen door. The natural-light-filled eatery is awash with the colors of the Southwest, with stainless steel, cement counters, white laminates, and terrazzo accents. There's a thoughtful coffee program developed by a NYC barista, a biodynamic wine list, and natural potions, elixirs, and tonics made with mylks (plant-derived milk, all made in house). Stand in the queue at breakfast for sweet toast made with teff (Ethiopian whole-grain flour) bread, vanilla cardamom cashew butter, pear sauce, and walnut dukkah, a custom-blended spice/nut blend ($11), coconut chia pudding ($10), or a baked egg skillet with pasture-raised eggs, homemade chicken sausage, and sunflower-seed ricotta ($13). For lunch, I ordered the Quinoa Pasta Buttermilk Mac + Cheeze from the Kids All Day menu. The cheese sauce is a creamy butternut- cauliflower concoction with a crunchy cashew topping that might just fool a six- year-old ($9). The za'atar socca also caught my eye: chickpea-flour flatbread topped with eggplant-caramelized onion purée, herb salad, sunflower ricotta, and pine- nut dukkah ($15). We'll be heading back soon, as Vibrant recently rolled out dinner service as well. Vibrant, 1931 Fairview, 832.409.6423, VIVID, VIBRANT AND VERY DELISH BY LAURANN CLARIDGE Za'atar Socca and the Greens + Grains Bowl with salmon Coconut chia pudding PHOTOGRAPHY KIRSTEN GILLIAM

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