PaperCity Magazine

February 2020- Houston

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Page 91 of 103

90 F ans of chef Mark H o l l e y h a v e followed his career from Brennan's to Pesce (with 12 years spent cooking at each) to his own midtown eatery Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, which closed in 2017 shortly after Hurricane Harvey swept through town. It's time to rejoice: The chef is back behind the range. For the last few months, the larger-than-life Holley has been front and center at Davis St. at Hermann Park, a ground-level restaurant anchoring the residential high-rise Mosaic, across from Hermann Park. Here, in a modern, comfortable setting with sleek black- marble tabletops, a warm sense of Southern hospitality pervades. Not to mention reverence for the chef … Embracing his Southern roots and his love for the creole fare of New Orleans, Holley has deftly blended both flavor profiles and indigenous ingredients along with an homage to the tastes of our culturally diverse city, from pan- Asian to Latin. Cocktails are of the artisan variety, t h o u g h t f u l l y crafted by bar manager Alan Torres. A highlights is the Sir Lancelot, a cherry-infused bourbon mint julep named after Holley's Louisville-born granddad. The magnanimous Holley, who has mentored a new generation of chefs, frequently touts his talented team; chef de cuisine Ricardo Ingles Gonzalez and creole chef Teresa Florentino have worked alongside him for decades. Inspired dishes include crisp pork belly is a tender, rich delight, served atop pimento cheese grits with fermented cole slaw and pickled, dehydrated strawberry slices ($15). The Thai- style whole snapper is flash-fried and brought to the table with two sauces: red curry gastrique and Thai barbecue, alongside Korean kimchi- spiked collard greens and hoppin' john stir-fried rice — an inventive take on snapper (market price). And what could be more Southern than to end your meal with a towering slice of coconut cake, made even sweeter with a drizzle of burnt caramel sauce and spiced pecans ($12). Open for dinner, Sunday brunch and Sunday supper, We d n e s d a y j a z z night; closed Mondays. Davis St. at Hermann Park, 5925 Almeda Road, 877.328.4778, FOUR NEW RESTAURANTS TURN UP THE HEAT Houston is known for its diverse dining scene, with chefs from every corner of the globe flocking to make their mark with citizens who dine out more than anywhere else in America. Into this environment comes chef Troy Guard, owner of TAG Restaurant Group in Denver (TAO, New York City; Doc Cheng's, Singapore). Guard debuted the second outpost of his modern steakhouse, Guard and Grace, downtown, on an enormous scale — a 15,000-square-foot, two-story space designed by BOSS Architecture, with floor-to-ceiling 30-foot windows and 4,600 thin bronze rods suspended from the ceiling — a breathtakingly bold move in a crowded field of steakhouse concepts. The menu, executed by chef Daniel Virola in an enormous sunken kitchen, feels familiar yet not typical, blending the flavors of East Asia, Hawaii, and Latin American in its dishes. An impressive start is the grand seafood tower with oysters, shrimp, king crab, and lobster ($85/$170). Or try the yellowfin tuna sashimi with citrus ponzu, topped with bonito flakes and microgreens ($22). As for the main course, carnivores will find mighty New York strip and porterhouse cuts on the carte — not to mention the Brontosaurus Steak, an enormous prime-grade axe-handle tomahawk (market price). Those of us who enjoy meat as a condiment — limiting the quantity and upping the quality — will love the exquisite yet sanely portioned four-ounce Wagyu filet from W Black of Australia ($59). Or, share the love with the filet flight, where you can taste-test four-ounce portions of prime, angus, and Wagyu filets ($105). And what would a steakhouse be without the sides: mac and cheese with black truffles ($16), handmade gnocchi ($14), and chipotle-lime smashed potatoes ($12). Cocktails were created by beverage director Nikki Guard, the chef/owner's wife. Try the Garden Grace, a bright orange blend of fresh carrot juice with gin and spicy ginger syrup whose name is a play on the eatery's own ($12). Desserts are crafted by executive pastry chef Joy Williams — pretty, composed plates that shy from the typical hunk of New York cheesecake. A whipped pumpkin panna cotta with a sliver of gingersnap cake, candied squash, and caramel popcorn ($12) is the perfect ending. Guard and Grace, One Allen Center, 500 Dallas St., 346.326.0789, EN GUARD BY LAURANN CLARIDGE CHEF HOLLEY'S HOMAGE THE NEW CULTURALLY DIVERSE DAVIS ST. AT HERMANN PARK RESTAURANT Guard and Grace Chef Mark Holley Thai snapper at Davis St. at Hermann Park (continued on page 92)

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