PaperCity Magazine

December 2018- Houston

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I nspired by Old World European hotel lobbies — where plush upholstered sofas and armchairs invite one to sit, relax, and enjoy a gin and tonic — Morgan Weber has created a bar quite unlike anything we've seen in Houston. In the expansive brick-walled space, clusters of conversation spaces are outfitted with mid- century furnishings that Weber has collected over the years. But what makes this concept so unique is that the bar is run like a restaurant kitchen. Bartenders at Miss Carousel (named for a line in Townes Van Zandt's ode to an unattainable girl) are poised behind a glass-enclosed kitchen bar, where complicated drink orders entered on a POS system are expedited on the line. Fresh juices, herbs, bitters, tinctures, syrups, and garnishes are the barkeep's respective mise en place, and each order is judiciously crafted by a cadre of mixologists all in view from your cushy spot on that Eames chair. While you can enjoy a simply mixed cocktail, we recommend the modern, more complex mixed beverages from Collinses and swizzles to highballs, sours, cobblers, juleps, and even a refreshing bitter Italian. Of course, it's best to imbibe that mule (spicy ginger beer and vodka with passionfruit syrup) or South American handshake (an ode to the Ramos gin fizz) with a bite on the side. Food choices range from crispy duck wings, a Vietnamese inspiration that's mightier than a mere chicken wing ($16), to a wild Gulf shrimp cocktail ($24), not to mention a couple of sweet endings. But if you crave a slice from Vinny's or a salad from Indianola and don't want to leave your perch at Miss Carousel, just ask. The owners call this interchangeable dining at its best. Open at 4 pm daily. miss-carousel. MISS CAROUSEL P izza is easy, affordable, and approachable — and who doesn't love a slice. But the pizza served up at the counter-service joint Vinny's isn't just any old slice, but pizza built upon a dough risen from a 24-hour fermentation process that yields a light and fluffy crust — the sort you can pull apart easily like cotton candy, with a dimpled top to embed toppings that range from house- made Italian sausage and small flavorsome disks of pepperoni to country ham, sweet onion puree, charred broccoli, and roasted mushrooms. Ranging from $3 to $5 per slice and $18 to $50 for a weighty medium or large pizza, each is topped with a combination of what's dubbed Wisconsin brick cheese (as well as cheddar, parmesan and provolone, depending on the pie). This brick cheese earns its name from the process by which the cheese curds are pressed with vintage clay-fired bricks to create a smooth, soft melting texture much like mozzarella with an assertive flavor. Delivery will eventually be available to the surrounding areas. VINNY'S AFTER THE STORM: CULTIVATED F+B T he Lancaster Hotel, which was flooded by Hurricane Harvey last August, has finally reopened. The historic 1926 property was purchased in July 2017 from the Lusk family (descendants of original owner Michele DeGeorge) by the Shinn family, a second- and third- generation hotelier group based in Dallas. Artist and art collector Jay Shinn and his team, including interior designer David Cadwallader, left no wood plank or mattress unturned as they renovated the 93-room hotel and its restaurant space while adding a top-notch collection of Texas contemporary art. In the restaurant, christened Cultivated F+B, ceilings are a bit higher now, and new iron-paned floor-to-ceiling windows invite the natural light. Just beyond those glorious sheets of glass is a patio that's perfect for nursing a TXT mule or candied pecan old fashioned cocktail ($13 each). Allan Levine, director of food and beverage, and long-time chef Fernando Huerta have edited the contemporary American menu down to the best of the best. Menu standards of yesteryear are still fixtures — crab cakes ($38), bacon-wrapped stuffed figs ($14), crispy pan-seared salmon ($28) — but they're joined by of-the-moment fare such as the lamb meatballs in arrabiata sauce with grilled bread spears to soak up the tomato goodness ($14). Cultivated F+B at The Lancaster Hotel, 701 Texas Ave., 713.228.9500, Cultivated F+B at The Lancaster Hotel Miss Carousel cocktail Green Machine pizza Atlantic sea scallops COURTESY THE LANCASTER HOTEL COURTESY THE LANCASTER HOTEL

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