I snuck onto a seat in the bar, at least it felt like I snuck onto it, as the tables were already filled and most of the bar just a quarter hour after opening. As tough as it might have been for me to decide upon what to eat, I manage to do it quickly. The mostly shareable and certainly fun menu made for dining in stages currently includes around ten smallish plates, a half-dozen larger ones denoted “medium,” a half-dozen large plates and five desserts. There are a couple green salads, some vegetables, several protein-centered preparations with many of the main flavors ranging from the Mediterranean on either side of the Bosphorus to stateside, all of which are enticing. There is even a version of the famed Au Cheval cheeseburger in Chicago, as Nancy Hustle's chef was on the opening team there. I wanted try new items on this trip – so none of the somewhat surprisingly delightful Nancy Cakes this time – I managed to narrow it down to the Crispy hash browns with sour cream, sautéed duck hearts, and cognac sauce and the Roasted striped bass with melted tomato, Spanish chorizo, capers, and basil. Both were excellent choices.
The hash browns turned out to be four thick rectangles of fried mashed or hashed potatoes arrayed on the plate with fresh flat-leaf parsley, chervil and chives and a half a dozen to eight duck heart halves. It was very enjoyable with the tasty, light but creamy yellow sauce and the brightness of the fresh herbs that very nicely paired with the all-meat hearts, which had none of the mineral accents that many associate with non-traditional parts. And fried potatoes certainly go well with pretty much everything, especially these crusty treats. The fish entrée turned out to be even better centered about an excellently cooked crispy skinned bass featuring a moist, mild white flesh that went well with the acidity and flavors of the ripe, roasted tomato halves and also the creamy textured sauce of a puree of corn cooked with shallots. The small nuggets of the chorizo sausage and capers, each provided a different but nicely complementary contrast to the fish and its corn sauce. Delicious.
The bartenders were terrific, both with the cocktail and with the service in general. I prefaced the dinner with the Mystery Plane, what I properly surmised was refreshing on a warm Houston summer after. Made with nearly entirely Gallic components: Boudier, a dry gin from Dijon, a white wine from Corsica, lemon liqueur, and a spray of absinthe. It was excellent, not just refreshing. After it, a white Burgundy for $13 proved to go well enough with the bass entrée.
My one minor quibble with the restaurant is that I wish the dishes were more specific to Houston. It sports a menu that might be found in most top restaurant cities, especially Chicago. As good as the food and drinks have been in my two visits, this is a very minor quibble.
2704 Polk (east of Emancipation), 77003, (346) 571-7931