The folks from Glass Wall have brought us this new Houston hotspot. These guys clearly had some fun thinking about their latest endeavor, starting with the name. BRC stands for “big red cock.” That’s a rooster (as evidenced by the large red chicken sign out front) for those who might have thought otherwise. The fun continued with the restaurant’s concept — a gastropub — a popular style that has been cropping up around the country as of late. More casual and less trendy in feel than nearby Max’s Wine Dive, BRC does evoke a pub environment. Only beer and wine are served. The beer choices are particularly expansive. And there are housemade wine coolers.
Casual is the order of the day. Although they’d likely invoke a no shirt, no shoes policy, shorts and t-shirts are quite acceptable. We dined early on a recent Saturday evening, and there were a number of kids eating with their parents. Old and young alike seemed to be enjoying the experience. Reservations are taken for six and more. And parking is ample. No valet.
The menu is large and quite varied. We saw so many things that interested us, we had trouble deciding what to order. We ultimately started with the homemade roasted pimento cheese dip with homemade potato chips. The chips could have been a crisper, but the cheese dip was delicious. We then tried the housemade smoked pork shank for two. We know that charcuterie plates are becoming commonplace, but we love them. Like a milder version of ham, the meat was wonderful. Attractively served on a large board, with parker house rolls (slightly dry), a soft cheese (tasty but didn’t really go with the meat), yellow mustard, and homemade pickles. We had alot of fun cutting the moist meat off the large bone that, regrettably, was a little too large for gnawing in public. Who can resist mac and cheese, and BRC has a daily version. On our visit it was blue cheese and bacon; appropriately creamy, and the cheese was not overpowering. The women sitting next to us said they very much enjoyed the open faced brisket sandwich and steamed mussels (also a daily version).
We’re ready to go back.
519 Shepherd Drive
(No Website; on Facebook)
Cozy, casual, comfort food. That pretty much sums up this recent addition to the growing Heights area dining scene. Located in a small house, with an open kitchen in the back, this new Houston restaurant has been hopping since it opened. The chef, Jamie Zelko, has graced a number of our local kitchens, including, most recently, Lancaster Grill. The opening of her own place was much anticipated.
We stopped by on a recent Saturday evening and found a wait at 6:30. No reservations are taken. There’s a small bar area and a porch for waiting. Parking is also quite abundant which is most appreciated. And no valet parking. Yippee. Prices are quite reasonable. No wines above the $40 range, and entrees in the mid-teens. Service was friendly and prompt. We love the growing popularity of leaving a bottle of water on the table.
As seems popular nowadays, the menu is an eclectic mix of favorites — spaghetti with meat sauce, meat loaf, fried chicken, short ribs, cheeseburger, shrimp ‘n grits, corned beef and cabbage. Even deep fried pickles, which we tried and found to be quite delicious with homemade ranch dressing. We also dined on the spaghetti with meat sauce which was satisfying but not exceptional. We are suckers for soft shell crab and an off the menu special enticed us — one good sized, corn meal crusted deep fried crab, served on an asian style slaw, with honey mustard dipping sauce. Like so many versions, too much breading without alot of flavor. (The best soft shell crabs in town are at Pico’s Mex Mex.)
Did we enjoy our dinner? Yes, particularly the comfortable, casual vibe. Will we race back for the food? Probably not.
705 E. 11th Street
A long weekend took us to this town of significant historical significance and alot of great food —
McCrady’s Tavern — our favorite restaurant, the chef, Sean Beck, just won the James Beard award for the southeast; beautiful room in a restored tavern dating back to the 1700’s; tried a couple great appetizers (soft shell crab with pea shoots and buttermilk fried sweetbreads with peas and lardo vinaigrette); really enjoyed the very unique lamb duo entree (a roulade of lamb saddle and loin and a lamb crepinette (braised meat formed into a cake) with peas, almond polenta and green onion puree); finished with a tasty lemon curd dessert that was essentially a deconstructed lemon meringue pie; very lively bar scene with interesting bar bites.
Tristan — fabulous Sunday brunch, contemporary setting, elegant service, not touristy, innovative food; started with chive cheddar popovers and she crab soup, Bergammo breakfast (polenta topped with two varieties of melted Italian cheese, and two fried eggs, finished with truffle butter) and Pate Eggs Benedict (poached eggs, topping country style pate, on toasted brioche with whole grain mustard hollandaise; not our favorite but beautifully executed and not too heavy); would definitely go back for dinner.
Slightly North of Broad — lunched at this very popular spot; the homemade charcuterie platter was generous, very reasonably priced and delicious (duck liver mousse, duck rillettes, country pate, head cheese, freshly toasted baguette slices, with the usual accompaniments); nicely done (again generously portioned) fried chicken livers topped grits with an overabundance of caramelized onion sauce.
High Cotton — very popular, somewhat touristy; started out well with the appetizers (“bacon and eggs” was an absolutely delicious chunk of pork belly topped with a crunchy coated poached egg, and a nicely executed crab cake with a bit too many sauces and toppings on the plate); things went down hill with the entrees (iodine tasting shrimp in a gloppy sauce on grits and deep fried soft shell crab in a heavy, tasteless breading that totally masked the crab).
Magnolia’s — also very popular and touristy; the signature eggroll appetizer with chicken and collard greens served with various pepper and mustard sauces bore a strong resemblance to Chili’s Southwestern egg rolls; the seafood on grits with lobster sauce was another gloppy mess with no discernible lobster or lobster taste; the parmesan crusted flounder was the only good dish, very fresh and nicely cooked, served on seafood rice, topped with crab salsa.
It took some courage for the folks from Shade to open in this space on Montrose that has housed a number of restaurants. In all fairness, the openings and closings have spanned a 20 year or more period. We’re beyond predicting the longevity of any new restaurant, but we have certainly enjoyed Canopy on a couple of recent occasions. Open for lunch, brunch and dinner, Canopy is both casual and sophisticated. There’s a light, open feel to the space, benefitting from high ceilings and lots of windows. This isn’t a white tablecloth venue. And it’s not particularly romantic. You can hear yourself talk, and there’s no need to dress up. On the flip side, the food is upscale, and it’s a little pricier than a neighborhood joint (at dinner, appetizers, $10-15; entrees $20-30). Reservations are taken, and there’s valet parking. We’ve had great service on both occasions.
We dropped by for Sunday brunch and quickly decided Canopy was right up there for a favorite brunch spot. We had the Croque Madame — grilled ham and cheese, topped with bechamel sauce and fried eggs. (The addition of the latter rendering the dish a “Madame” rather than a “Monsieur.”) The sandwich was sided by a wonderfully fresh spinach salad. The Challah French toast, eggs, and bacon were also quite good. One of the pluses of Canopy is that there are a lot of choices and variety on the menu at every meal. The menu included a number of breakfast-type options, salads, sandwiches, and more substantial entrees.
For a recent dinner, we started with the calamari (a favorite of ours as you know if you read this blog). It was beautifully fried and quite tasty, although the serving size was smaller than you might typically see. One of us really liked the harissa lime mayo, not so much the taste of the other. We opted for appetizers for our main courses — Green Eggs and Ham (a seared scallop, on country ham grits, topped with a sunny side up quail egg), Crab Cake and fried green tomatos, and Mac and Cheese. Our friend had the Garlic-Rosemary Sauteed Scallops entree. Every dish was delicious, made with fresh ingredients, and well executed.
We hope this place endures. We suspect brunch and lunch will see good numbers. The restaurant may not be as big a draw for the evening out crowd.