PaperCity Magazine

July / August 2016 - Houston

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JULY/AUGUST | PAGE 58 | 2016 WHAT'S AT STEAK UNDERGROUND DINING R elish Fine Foods has amassed a staunch clientele during its four years in a quaint gray clapboard building on San Felipe Street, in the Ouisie's and Janus et Cie nexus. The River Oaks location houses a flurry of house- made and locally crafted goods, signature sandwiches and salads, even comfy Rice Krispies treats. The petite lobby is literally standing room only during the daily lunch rush — but not for much longer. Relish owner Addie D'Agostino is taking the brand to new heights with Relish Restaurant & Bar, her first foray into the full- service dining scene. In August, she and her new husband, Relish executive chef Dustin Teague, debut the expanded eatery in the former space of The Bird & Bear Restaurant, at 2810 Westheimer Road near Kirby. Expect a fusion of Mediterranean and American cuisine, including peach-lined burrata salad, crispy fried chicken, crème fraîche-topped glazed carrots and a spicy watermelon margarita. The lunch and brunch service will echo the original Relish's grab-and-go roots with quick food fixes such as Greek yogurt with homemade granola and berries, various soups and cold and hot sandwiches. The original Relish on San Felipe remains open until the new restaurant debuts in August. Jailyn Marcel Conservatory Food Hall & Beer Garden, 1010 Prairie St., 832.919.8382, L ook out, Houston: Jeff and Michael Mastro, the founders (along with dad Dennis) of famed Mastro's Steakhouse, are back in the steak game. In 2007, the trio sold their restaurant holdings to investor George Soros and his partners, who in 2013 sold it again to Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta, chairman of Landry's. While Fertitta readies a nearby 10-acre plot called The Post Oak (an adventurous mixed-use development that includes his newest jewel, Mastro's Steakhouse, opening early 2017), the brothers have been developing other steak places, long after their non-compete clause ended. Steak 48, the Mastros' splashy new two-story steakhouse in River Oaks District, is modeled after their Steak 44 eatery in Phoenix (so named for the 44th Street address, while Steak 48 references the place it all began: Arizona, the 48th state). The sleek space, dressed in shades of gray, measures more than 13,000 square feet and allows patrons dining options upstairs and down, in the bar, the chef's dining room (where 14 people have a bird's- eye view of the cooks whipping up their meal) to the cozy kitchen dining room with fireplace. Exec chef Jeff Taylor mans the range, where 28-day wet-aged steaks rubbed with 48's proprietary spice blend are brought to the table sizzling and still cooking to desired doneness on a scorching 500-degree plate. The prime beef is cut upstairs in the refrigerated butcher's kitchen, where a scary bandsaw is center stage. Taylor also offers a raw bar with startlingly fresh selections highlighted by a seafood tower with lobster, king crab legs, colossal shrimp and oysters on ice (market price). Don't miss the crispy- shrimp app either, a Nobu-like dish that bathes 40 to 50 shrimp in buttermilk before they're dunked in seasoned flour and fried, served with a spicy aioli dipping sauce ($11 to $15). Service is practiced, the wine list comprehensive and the location prime — just like the steaks. Laurann Claridge Steak 48, River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer Road, 713.322.7448, Relish Restaurant & Bar, 2810 Westheimer Road, no new phone number at press time, New Doors SIX NEW RESTAURANTS HEATING UP HOUSTON REBOOT RELISH JENNY ANTILL A s towering hotels, palatial high- rises and tony eateries engulf the downtown skyline, Anh Mai and Lian Nguyen have abandoned curbside comfort for a more sub- terrestrial scene. They've opened Conservatory Food Hall & Beer Garden (the city's first venture of its kind) beneath their 1920s-themed Prohibition Supperclub — shared architecture that was once the 1912 Isis Theatre, followed by the now-shuttered nightclub The Mercury Room, circa 1999. Two stories below Prohibition, Conservatory's industrial interiors are home to four food vendors chosen by Mai and a mammoth beer wall with 60-plus craft beers on tap. At the entrance, Melange Creperie offers both sweet and savory versions of the beloved Parisian street crepe. At El Burro & the Bull, acclaimed pitmaster John Avila dishes out Texas-style barbecue — brisket, pulled pork, ribs and more. Seattle-based ramen shop Samurai Noodle introduces Japanese staples such as Tokyo-style shouyu (hearty egg noodles in a light chicken broth, topped with pork belly, green onions and seaweed) and Hakata-style tonkotsu (wheat noodles, pork belly and black wood ear mushrooms in a full-body pork broth). At Myth Kafe, authentic Greek fare is center stage, including gyros and arnadiko (overnight-marinated lamb combined with Greek rice and au jus). The sprawling beer wall serves 60 choices including Karbach's Love Street, Saint Arnold's 5 O'Clock Pils and Lone Pint's Yellow Rose, alongside wine and sake. Weekend revelry calls for an after-midnight sojourn, and this underground world keeps the lights on until 3 am Saturday and Sunday. Jailyn Marcel ALL PHOTOS JULIE SOEFER WILLIAM HARDIN WHO'S YOUR DODDY? T he first thing you notice is the line. It snakes around the side of the building in River Oaks District, 45 or so individuals sporting eager countenances, some browsing on their phones, others chatting with companions. You'd be forgiven for thinking they were queuing for the latest Tom Ford or Cartier creation — but you'd be wrong. These eager souls are braving the heat and humidity for a hamburger from Hopdoddy, Houston's most recent Austin-based culinary import. A perennial fixture on national "best burger" lists, the chain (15 locations distributed among Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and California) prides itself on using beef from humanely raised cows (the "doddy," a term for a cow or bull devoid of horns) and offering beers and wines that are local to each of its restaurants (the "Hop"). Once inside, orders Hopdoddy Burger Bar, River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer, 713.227.2337, are placed at the counter or take a seat at the full- service bar (wines, spirits and the aforementioned beer, including Karbach and Saint Arnold). It's an inviting space, with high ceilings, abundant natural light shining through the large windows. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more welcoming place in which to enjoy a burger and a drink. We liked the Doble Fina Margarita and the $3 cans of Deep Ellum Rye Pils. Though we wished the patties of our Primetime burgers had a touch more flavor, a follow-up visit and a Classic Burger, with its fine salt-and-pepper char, filled the proper-seasoning bill. Of course, Hopdoddy also serves salads and fries; the Hail Caesar (fried chickpeas!) is a good pick, as are the Kennebec frites. The lines will probably lessen in the next few weeks, and Hopdoddy will have the burger buzz all to itself — at least until Shake Shack opens in the Galleria later this year. James Brock JENNY ANTILL JENNY ANTILL Underground Conservatory Food Hall & Beer Garden Colorado rack of lamb Chef Jeff Taylor Addie D'Agostino and husband, Relish executive chef Dustin Teague Burrata salad Trio of deviled eggs

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