PaperCity Magazine

November 2019- Houston

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96 A CLASSIC REIMAGINED BY LAURANN CLARIDGE THE NEW ANNIE CAFE & BAR T he legendary Café Annie, a beacon of Houston's roaring '80s and '90s, was rechristened The Annie Café & Bar earlier this year and re-conceptualized in a partnership with founder and chef Robert Del Grande and Benjamin Berg of Berg Hospitality Group. Still situated in its two-story Post Oak Boulevard space, the new version, The Annie Cafe & Bar, debuted one rainy evening to a crowd eager to see how the James Beard Award-winning Del Grande, and Berg have rebooted for the next decade and beyond. With the help of architect Issac Preminger, nearly every nook and cranny of the 11,000-square-foot space was gutted and redesigned. In its place stands a light, bright interior with fl oor-to-ceiling black-steel windows, towering faux palm trees, whitewashed brick walls, and tufted charcoal velvet banquettes. Make your way up the narrow split staircase, its walls lined with framed pictures of matchbooks from iconic restaurants, to the oval- shaped bar, with 36 seats. The main dining room's fl oor-to-ceiling mural is by New York graffi ti artist CES, while the 1,040-square-foot patio encourages al fresco dining with views of Post Oak Boulevard. Del Grande and Berg are joined by operating partner Sam Governale, who splits his time as owner/operator of Emmaline restaurant. In the back of the house, Del Grande's crew includes executive sous chef Elliott Kelly (Cafe Annie and Four Seasons Hotel, Houston); their thoughtful dishes described as Texas-infl uenced American cuisine — no surprise, as Del Grande is hailed as one of the founders of the Southwestern cuisine movement. Classics on the carte include Del Grande's much-imitated coffee- crusted fi let mignon ($42) and many old standards have a comfortable place on the expansive menu, including Gulf crabmeat tostadas with avocado salsa ($16). Or try new inventions such as Texas lardo, a rich pork fatback layered with mascarpone and seasonal fruit mustard on crostini ($10) or rabbit pot pie, a steaming stew beneath a bronzed crust, pierced tableside and fi lled with market vegetables and mushrooms ($12). Shareable entrees for two include redfi sh on the half-shell ($58), a dry-aged long bone rib eye ($116), and Dinner Bell chicken, which feels like a good Southern Sunday supper with cornbread dressing, sweet potato, and green-bean salad ($52). The wine selections by sommelier Bridget Paliwoda are a highlight, with bottles priced from $39. Desserts include fl ourless chocolate cake with a scoop of chocolate coffee mousse and candied orange ($12). December will usher in the reveal of Turner's, a 30-seat supper club tucked downstairs and accessed through a sly side entrance. The Annie Café & Bar, 1800 Post Oak Blvd. in BLVD Place, 713.804.1800, The Annie Cafe & Bar Crab tostadas Rabbit pot pie Long-bone rib eye Lemon pound cake JENN DUNCAN KIRSTEN GILLIAM

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