Houston area dining talk

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JusHappy2BeHere
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Bumpy road
Caswell had married his second wife, Jennifer Caswell, in 2014 in his parents' backyard, serenading her with "I Want to Know What Love Is." The Caswells lived in the historical Avondale neighborhood, in a two-story house, one of the oldest in the city. Their blended family included four children, three dogs and four chickens. Together they operated Bryan Caswell Concepts as well as the nonprofit Southern Salt Foundation.
While still working to get Reef back open, Bryan and Jennifer were hired to open a ground-floor restaurant and rooftop bar at the new Le Meridien Houston hotel in downtown.
Oxbow 7, hailed for its "elevated bayou cuisine," was a coup for the Caswells and an opportunity for the chef to redefine his brand of Gulf Coast cuisine while Reef was one the mend. But their relationship with Le Meridien soured almost immediately, and they were released from their contract in January 2018, not even four months after the project opened. At the time, Le Meridien management declined to comment on the factors that led to the Caswells' contract termination. The Caswells said the hotel management did not act in good faith.
The new year also brought the dissolution of Caswell's partnership with Floyd. Floyd was still a partner at Reef when Harvey hit, but by that time, he had largely moved on to other projects that did not involve the Caswells.
In the split, Floyd took Jackson Street BBQ. He is no longer associated with Reef or El Real in Montrose, he said, but he maintains an interest in the El Real outpost in Terminal B at George Bush International Airport and 3rd Bar Eating House in the same terminal. Floyd also partners in Monarch Hospitality Group.
REVIEW: See what critic Alison Cook thought of the old Reef, only on HoustonChronicle.com
"We were very successful partners for 10 years. We wouldn't have been able to do the things we did without Bill," Caswell said of his partnership. "He's the hardest-working man I've seen in my life. He's one of the last hard-core restaurant professionals around."
A week after his partnership with Floyd dissolved, another blow came, Caswell said. On July 6, lightning struck the Caswell home in Montrose during a storm. There were no injuries, but the home caught fire and was badly damaged. It is still being repaired.
That, more than the hurricane, was debilitating," Caswell said. "The fire burned through the roof."
Before Reef officially reopened, Bryan and Jennifer Caswell split. They are now divorcing, he said.
Jennifer Caswell, who worked on the business end of Reef in marketing and public relations, said she was terminated from Reef operations more than a month ago. "Bryan fired me. It's that simple," she said.
When asked on what grounds, she said, "I don't know, he never told me."
She called her husband "a brilliant chef" and added that she, for the most part, is proud of her association with Reef.
"I was up there working my butt off every single day," she said. "I was proud of most of it. There were some things I wish I could have done different. I wish my voice was heard more. I was not heard a lot of the time."
Passion for the Gulf
Bryan Caswell's friends know two indisputable truths about him. He loves his Astros (he wears an Astros cap more often than not), and his passion for fishing is intense.
The Gulf waters off the Surfside Marina in Freeport where his family keeps a boat is the spot Caswell has been fishing all his life. Snapper, cobia, dorado, tripletail amberjack they're the fish Caswell has hooked since he was a boy and the fish he's featured on his menu as a chef.
"When I get in a boat, it's the only place in the world where I'm not worried about everything else going on in my life," he said. "My history of fishing drives my passion for what I'm doing."
At 46, Caswell is back working in the open kitchen at the restaurant that has brought him culinary acclaim.
"There's nothing that's the same on the menu from Reef. Everything's different," he said. "These are the things that have been in my head and wanted to come out of me for years."
Not only has he created a new menu, he's added a dining concept within Reef called Weedline, a chef's table of 12 seats facing the open kitchen. He'll soon offer an omakase-like service of six to 10 dishes prepared from market-fresh fish and seafood by Caswell and his three sous chefs.
Weedline takes its name from a zone of water with significant weed growth where fish congregate.
"It's a pop-up for fish a full ecosystem," he said of fishing the weedline. "Everything is feeding under this weedline."
Caswell's eyes light up when he talks about fishing, the Gulf, the Weedline and its endless seafood possibilities. He has filled the restaurant's walls with framed maps of the Gulf and Galveston waterways and with artwork inspired by the Coastal Conservation Association.
In the restaurant's private dining room, now dubbed "the boardroom," he shows off the table that will seat eight for elegant dinners secluded behind the restaurant's glass-fronted wine room. The table was the working desk his father, Michael Caswell, a successful wildcatter and petroleum engineer, used for work in the Caswell home. He describes it as the desk where family decisions were made.
"It's where I went to beg him to let me go to culinary school," Caswell said.
Although Caswell has weathered ups and downs since Reef closed, it feels good to start anew, he said.
"I feel better than I've ever felt in my life. There's nothing bad about what's going on," he said. "I'm more excited about coming to work than I ever have been."
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mahatma Gandhi
Hubbs
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My wife works in marketing for a software company. She has put together events in different cities where they bring in customers to a chef's house or event space for private dining event. Do any of you Houston people have a suggestion for a local chef? She's worked with a bunch of chefs in different cities, but is having trouble tracking down someone in Houston. She mentioned Chris Shepard...any others you think would be a draw?
CTCBear
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Shepard would be great. The Agricole Hospitality group does a ton of events. Justin Yu and team does as well. You might even try and get a hold of Aaron Bludorn as he has opened anything in Houston since leaveing NY.
bularry
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Hubbs said:

My wife works in marketing for a software company. She has put together events in different cities where they bring in customers to a chef's house or event space for private dining event. Do any of you Houston people have a suggestion for a local chef? She's worked with a bunch of chefs in different cities, but is having trouble tracking down someone in Houston. She mentioned Chris Shepard...any others you think would be a draw?
Shepherd would be great, but I'd be surprised if you could get him.

I'd look at two semi-famous guys to use. Ryan L. of Riel or the chef at State of Grace (can't recall name).

Might also be worth the effort to track down Terrence Gallivan or Seth Siegel-Gardner since they closed their restaurant not long ago.
Hubbs
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Thanks guys. They have had pretty good luck getting big names for these things, so I'll pass the info along.
JusHappy2BeHere
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Hubbs said:

My wife works in marketing for a software company. She has put together events in different cities where they bring in customers to a chef's house or event space for private dining event. Do any of you Houston people have a suggestion for a local chef? She's worked with a bunch of chefs in different cities, but is having trouble tracking down someone in Houston. She mentioned Chris Shepard...any others you think would be a draw?
When Mark Cox closed Mark's he said he was going to do some small catering and tastings... I don't know if he still is doing that or not, but he'd be great if you could get him.
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mahatma Gandhi
GoBearsGo
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Wife wants some type of Asian for her birthday so
Mala or Himalaya ?
CTCBear
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If it's for a birthday I'd say Kata Robata, MF Sushi, or Yuatcha...
JusHappy2BeHere
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Uchi

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mahatma Gandhi
GoBearsGo
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We have some friends who aren't big Sushi fans so we are going to skip it even though we love Uchi.

My wife really wants Indian and we love Pondicheri but are looking for something different and Himalaya seems to be loved by Alison Cook and other media.

The birthday celebration is more about she gets to choose what she wants.
JusHappy2BeHere
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My wife and I both have missed REEF since it closed after Harvey and were very excited to go now that it is open again....


we were very disappointed. Nothing was special and her entree was just bad.... I hope it gets better.
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mahatma Gandhi
bularry
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GoBearsGo said:

We have some friends who aren't big Sushi fans so we are going to skip it even though we love Uchi.

My wife really wants Indian and we love Pondicheri but are looking for something different and Himalaya seems to be loved by Alison Cook and other media.

The birthday celebration is more about she gets to choose what she wants.
that's a very casual place. if you've never been to Kata Robata it would be worth your while, food it outstanding and there are many non-sushi items. but it can be $$$
bularry
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JusHappy2BeHere said:

My wife and I both have missed REEF since it closed after Harvey and were very excited to go now that it is open again....


we were very disappointed. Nothing was special and her entree was just bad.... I hope it gets better.
big bummer
JusHappy2BeHere
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bularry said:

JusHappy2BeHere said:

My wife and I both have missed REEF since it closed after Harvey and were very excited to go now that it is open again....


we were very disappointed. Nothing was special and her entree was just bad.... I hope it gets better.
big bummer
they haven't been open long.... we'll give him another chance one day.
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mahatma Gandhi
GoBearsGo
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Last night we tried to walk in at TRex and they were booked, so they called and got us a table at Squable which is Justin Yu's newest place. It was outstanding. Bigger than TRex, more bread options (Drew Gemma who found Common Bond is the bread chef), and mixed drinks. Great flavors. We had a summer succotash that was incredible, a great focaccia with an almost Indian carrot spread. We ate 2 bread dishes, 5 small dishes, 3 big plates and three desserts.

We walked out stuffed and then hit Goodnight Charlie's and had a few drinks and listened to some music.

Tonight we will hit Himalaya and the some tiki bars. Fun weekend in Houston.
CTCBear
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Squable might be the best restaurant in Houston right now. Love everything from the vibe, drinks, to service. Love it.
bularry
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CTCBear said:

Squable might be the best restaurant in Houston right now. Love everything from the vibe, drinks, to service. Love it.
Need to try it. Justin Yu is the best chef in Houston, IMO.
bularry
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can't wait till goodnight charlie's crew opens their wine and cheese shop and Rosie Cannonball. should be epic
CTCBear
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Don't forget the fine dining March with Rosie C.
GoBearsGo
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Went to Himalaya and it was outstanding. Had butter chicken, a Pakistani pastrami, goat brayani, some dish Alison Cook loves and some lentils. Owner was great (reputation is he can be moody) he ended up giving us two free deserts. We will go back.

Ended the night at Kanola and had some tiki drinks.

Went to brunch at Superica which is always good.

Great weekend in Houston. Won't need to eat for a few days.
JusHappy2BeHere
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Ibiza is closing. It's been a good place for awhile
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mahatma Gandhi
GoBearsGo
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Georgia James tomorrow night. Got a gift card. Will probably share a steak and then get a bunch of sides.
bularry
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went to Montrose Wine and Cheese and Pennyquarter this past week. Two great additions to Houston wine and food scene.

Really impressed with the layout in Pennyquarter, a very well done space
GoBearsGo
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bularry said:

went to Montrose Wine and Cheese and Pennyquarter this past week. Two great additions to Houston wine and food scene.

Really impressed with the layout in Pennyquarter, a very well done space


I want to go to both places.
JusHappy2BeHere
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Has anyone been to one fifth?
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mahatma Gandhi
GoBearsGo
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JusHappy2BeHere said:

Has anyone been to one fifth?


Not to new gulf coast but went to the other versions. We went last to to Chris Shepard's Steakhouse Georgia James. The first One Fifth was Steak and he then redid Underbelly into Georgia James.

Wagyu Meatballs on grits were awesome. Had a big green salad that feed 4. Had a nice steak and then 4 sides. Street corn, kale with cheese, a cold squash salad and sweet potato augratin that was great. Nice Spanish red to drink. Great steakhouse experience.
GoBearsGo
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http://houston.culturemap.com/top-100-restaurants/

what are your thoughts?
JusHappy2BeHere
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my first thought is, "what makes the Pappasito's on Richmond better than all the other Pappas Restaurants in Houston?"
FranchiseBear
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I think the explanation of the rankings notes why something like Pappasitos Richmond is on the list - and there is at least one other Pappas restaurant on the list.

Went to One Fifth Gulf Coast last night and really enjoyed it. I had not been to any of the other versions. We had:
apps - bbq shrimp, popcorn shrimp, hush puppies, okra with pimiento cheese
main course -smoked pork, chicken and shrimp jambalaya (huge - feeds 3 ppl) and Gulf catch which was ling I think.

Really enjoyed the food and the experience.

Any one been to the new Los Tios on San Felipe? Went the first friday it was open and had beef fajitas and a few margs. It was solid and service was very good for our table of 20+. Tried to go back last Sunday - hour and 15 min wait at 6:15p! I have not been to the new Ninfas yet but have heard consistent poor reviews on food, service and high prices. I am an El Patio guy but Los TIos will be in our rotation.
JusHappy2BeHere
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FranchiseBear said:

I think the explanation of the rankings notes why something like Pappasitos Richmond is on the list - and there is at least one other Pappas restaurant on the list.

Went to One Fifth Gulf Coast last night and really enjoyed it. I had not been to any of the other versions. We had:
apps - bbq shrimp, popcorn shrimp, hush puppies, okra with pimiento cheese
main course -smoked pork, chicken and shrimp jambalaya (huge - feeds 3 ppl) and Gulf catch which was ling I think.

Really enjoyed the food and the experience.

Any one been to the new Los Tios on San Felipe? Went the first friday it was open and had beef fajitas and a few margs. It was solid and service was very good for our table of 20+. Tried to go back last Sunday - hour and 15 min wait at 6:15p! I have not been to the new Ninfas yet but have heard consistent poor reviews on food, service and high prices. I am an El Patio guy but Los TIos will be in our rotation.
the other Pappas is the Pappas Bros Steakhouse on Westheimer, and in my opinion it's the best steakhouse in Houston.
JusHappy2BeHere
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oops
FranchiseBear
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Completely agree on Pappas Bros steakhouse but I have not been to Mastros or Georgia James yet. Every time I get excited to try a new steakhouse it falls short of Pappas.
CTCBear
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Save your time and money and skip Maestros.... Killens Steakhouse and Georgia James IMO love up to best steak spots in town along with Pappas.
JusHappy2BeHere
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CTCBear said:

Save your time and money and skip Maestros.... Killens Steakhouse and Georgia James IMO love up to best steak spots in town along with Pappas.
Killens is great.... still haven't been to GJ
bularry
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GoBearsGo said:

http://houston.culturemap.com/top-100-restaurants/

what are your thoughts?
I liked the list. I didn't like the exclusion of Dolce Vita, but I'm okay otherwise.
 
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