PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston Jan_Feb 2023

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T he much-awaited restaurant Navy Blue has recently sailed into Rice Village. This beautiful encore to chef Aaron Bludorn's first Houston eatery, Bludorn, was given a name that harkens back to his dad's naval career: His father, Greg Bludorn, served as a Top Gun fighter pilot flying F-14s on the USS Constellation. The name pays tribute to the elder's call sign, Blue, while the seafood-centric menu celebrates the bounty of the blue waters off the Gulf Coast and beyond. An alum of chef Daniel Boulud's kitchen (not to mention the Culinary Institute of America), Bludorn spent a decade working his way up to the position of executive chef at Boulud's now-shuttered Café Boulud, where he met and married colleague Victoria Pappas (yes, of the Houston Pappas restaurant family) and moved to Houston during the pandemic to open Bludorn on Taft. The couple brought along colleagues Cherif Mbodji (serving as front-of-house partner) and Darryl Chan (creator of the spirits program) to play a part in both Bludorn and Navy Blue. When it came time to find the top toque, they asked Jerrod Zifchak to take the helm as executive chef. Zifchak comes to Houston with an extensive résumé that includes slipping into Bludorn's former role at Café Boulud, not to mention time spent behind the range at the Michelin three-star restaurant Le Bernadin in Manhattan. The 7,100-square-foot space, formerly occupied by Politan Row, was reimagined by Courtney Hill Interiors, Gensler, and the Austin-based firm Föda Studios, who envisioned a space inspired by an ocean untouched by humanity. A tall white oyster-shaped wall was erected in the entry's vestibule with sandy concrete breeze blocks. All drinks are $15 on the cheeky bar menu, which was developed by mixologist Chan and features cocktails such as Hold The New Navy Blue is Smooth Sailing Chef Aaron Bludorn's Ode to the Sea By Laurann Claridge. Photography Michael Anthony, Julie Soefer and Bonjwing Lee. Me Closer Tony Danza and Chasing Penguins, named for often misheard lyrics. Sommelier Molly Austad's extensive wine list — which gravitates toward French imports — highlights 160 bottles. Starters focus on proteins that come by way of the ocean — everything from shrimp and oysters prepared three ways to luxe caviar options, something we're seeing on quite a few menus of late. Both chefs were trained in French culinary techniques, so Gallic classics such as crab brandade ($19) and mussel bisque ($21) are given an American slant. When dining with family or friends, share a plate of pasta (or two or three). Available in generous full or half portions, the lobster ravioli arrived at our table bursting with minced lobster meat scented with tarragon and topped with fried sunchokes and charred pearl onions ($32/$54). The seafood risotto is cooked al dente with l o b s t e r, c u t t l e f i s h , a n d t o m a t o c o n f i t ($26/$44). My favorite, the branzino, comes with a cucumber salad and a Greek yogurt s a u c e ( s k o r d a l i a ) emulsified with olive oil, almonds, and lemon juice ($39). Navy Blue, 2445 Times Blvd., Rice Village, 713.347.7727, navybluerestaurant. com. Clams Casino Courtney Hill Interiors, Gensler, and Foda Studios designed Navy Blue. Aaron Bludorn 24

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