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PaperCity May 2024 Houston

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D e s p i t e h e r re g a l bearing, the muse for Duchess restaurant i s d e l i g h t f u l l y approachable — a glamorous globe- trotter, drawn to the sea whether on holiday at the French Riviera or sailing along the Amalfi coast. This stately persona inspires the contemporary fare at the new Uptown Park restaurant created by Roveen Abante (who's also a partner in Conservatory Galleria food hall) and Peggy and Daniel Chang (Sushi Rebel and Uptown Sushi, the latter a stone's throw away). Wunderkind Omar Pereney of Culinary Matters serves as consulting chef — you may recall that this Venezuelan-born prodigy won By Laurann Claridge. Photography Jenn Duncan. Houston's hearts and palates a decade ago when, at the tender age of 20, he became top toque at the much-acclaimed Peska Seafood Culture. After Peska shuttered, Pereney became the private chef of former President George W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush. (His current passion project is Love Croissants, a midtown bakery where he produces nearly From top: The interior of Duchess with a modern take on Victorian flowers. Cocktails at Duchess in Uptown Park. Meet The Duchess a dozen varieties of the French laminated pastry.) We're giddy to see Pereney back at the range, doing what he does best: conceptualizing a menu then training the crew to execute his dishes with finesse. The all-day offerings feature fare that Pereney dubs coastal culture, borrowing on flavors from the Mediterranean to Asia and South America that often have an earthy, smoke- imbued flavor after a quick sear on the kitchen's wood- fired grill. Enter Duchess through the breeze-block façade and settle into a plush jewel-toned banquette, where you might begin with the April Bloom, a frothy violet-hued tincture made with vodka, lavender, and crème de Violette ($18). Starters are anything but ordinary. The little gem salad is tossed with tahini- based ranch dressing and adorned with caramelized onions, glistening pomegranate seeds, and a flurry of pine-nut dukkah ($14). The peach and pistachio burrata presents the unctuous cheese atop a slice of grilled cranberry sourdough with a smear of arugula pesto and sweet peach red-pepper jam ($22). On the hot side, indulge in the tandoori- style lamb lollipops with a cool cucumber yogurt sauce on the side ($23) or one of the six wood-fired skewers on the menu; my favorite is the tiger prawn served with head on, the flesh bathed in coconut red curry and a sprinkling of cilantro, basil, and crispy shallots ($28). Heartier beef-centric appetites will appreciate the steak and frites, an eight-ounce prime beef tenderloin with charred cipollini onions, garlic aioli, and fries ($48). End on a sweet note with a Greek yogurt-based panna cotta touched with orange blossom syrup and topped with diced cantaloupe and apricot ($12). Duchess, 1131- 01 Uptown Park Blvd., 28

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