PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston March 2022

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Page 113 of 163

F or the past few months, one of the buzziest restaurants In Round Top that has visitors from near and far clamoring for a table is Duo by Gino & Nate. The charming full- service eatery is poised inside Paul Michael's expansive Market Hill, a glittering decorative arts and antiques DUO QUITE THE emporium on a two-acre property just a mile from Round Top's town square. Co-owners Nathaniel "Nate" Pineda, 32, who runs the front of the house (and occasionally serves as sous chef), and chef Gino Llanes, 49, met six years ago in Houston and were introduced to Round Top a few years later when they worked with a local restaurateur to open new concepts in this tiny town of 90. The slower- paced lifestyle obviously agreed with this duo, and before they knew it, Paul Michael, owner of Market Hill, made them an offer they couldn't refuse. Open for lunch and dinner Thursday to Saturday, with a buffet brunch served on Sunday, Duo's menu changes weekly and is often met with pleading requests from customers for Llanes' dishes they've come to crave. Chef Llanes, a 21-year industry veteran, creates home-style Mexican fare at lunch such as taco Norteno and authentic enchiladas prepared like his mother did back in Mexico City. Dinner offerings are an international mix, inspired by seasonal ingredients and product availability. The duo commutes from Houston for each long weekend with product — and often kitchen colleagues — in tow; you might find redfish with citrus beurre-blanc and sautéed spinach, bone-in short rib with swiss chard napped with mole negro, roasted quail with acorn squash and black beans, or rack of lamb with cardamon-spiced caramelized carrots and shallots. At any given dinner hour, there are two salad choices, three appetizers, a half dozen entrées, and three desserts to choose from. Their most requested tables seem to be the six lined up near the kitchen, where diners are captivated by live-action behind the line. The dining room, which has a capacity to seat 200, is an ever- changing mix of furnishings and antiques from Paul Michael and his vendors. Fall in love with the chandelier shedding light overhead? Or perhaps a painting or mirror that surrounds the space — make it yours and carry it home after your meal. In addition to the restaurant, the talented team also caters everything from small intimate dinners (such as a recent Russian-food-themed one) to large weddings. During the fall and winter antiques + design shows, expect menu offerings to be served buffet style to accommodate the madding crowd that descends on this small town. Duo by Gino & Nate, Market Hill, 1542 N. State Highway 237, Round Top, markethillroundtop. com/the-restaurant-at-market-hill. By Laurann Claridge. Photography Jack Thompson. Nate Pineda, Gino Llanes at Duo by Gino & Nate at Market Hill, Round Top 112

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