Backstreet Café houses sommelier… Sean Beck. Recognized by Star Chefs as owning, as well as maintaining, a status of elite Houston superior sommelierness, his skills are sublime. This young buck wielding a wine key as his weapon, has mastered this task without a single scurry or relentless worry.
Pardon me? Did you ask if I would like to be seated on the patio? Yes. Double yes. Triple yes. Infinity yes. Um… YES. Swinging trees hover high above cascading umbrellas, where sitting safely beneath can be found not one… not two… not three, but maybe fourteen… socialites. Yes, let it be known, the patio at Backstreet Café, quite frankly, is an heiress oasis. That’s right… Flocking like royalty for a brunch they know exists only because they are in our midst.
As I sashay across the courtyard, feeling quite sassy in my shorts with… heels, I notice a parade of nostrils rotating into the air as eyes begin to float back into Botox filled foreheads… I’m sorry. Are heels with shorts a problem, Mrs. Robinson?
Trying to ruffle the feather on your chic Chanel suit was not an intentional goal to obtain. If your forehead could only wrinkle, it would be fantastically frightened. I’m just going to go ahead, right now, without wasting another trust fund second, and give you all a… Double Silver Spoon Wow.
Moving right along…
Owners Hugo Ortega & Tracy Vaught are beyond veggie friendly. More so, they are a veggie menu miracle! Having developed a vegetarian menu for both Hugo’s and Backstreet Café, they offer an array of choices suitable for AVH… Cauliflower risotto with wild mushrooms… Portabello burger with red bell peppers, grilled zucchini, red onion, arugula, feta, and pesto… Jalapeno fettuccine with tomatoes, black beans, and cilantro… Conchiglioni stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and pine nuts baked in a rustic tomato sauce…and much more!
Hugo’s passion and support for the Urban Harvest Farmers Market is inspiring. On two separate occasions we spoke of his involvement in helping with the financial struggles the market is currently experiencing. Aside from the booth he has each weekend, Hugo offers a Sunday Farmers Market Supper, which features the many locally grown products available at the market. This past weekend, the menu was truly mouthwatering. For $35 per person, expect a seasonal meal using only the freshest ingredients local farmers have to offer. Hugo donates $5 from each meal purchased.
First to arrive… Atkinson Farms tomato cocktail with market’s first tomatoes, Atkinson Farm cucumbers, Oak Farm cilantro, and avocados. Ingredients simply do not get any fresher than this… an abundance of freshness, indeed.
For the main course, Texas Wild Gulf Shrimp are served with spring green risotto. The risotto is made with Henkle Farms spinach, zucchini, Wit’s End spring onions, Oak Hollow Farm dandelion sprouts, and Houston Regional Market Growers green beans.
The cobbler is made with R & M Farm blackberries and topped with house made vanilla ice cream. The ice cream melted just quickly enough, causing a rush of sorts that totally tickled my fancy. After swirling the freshly melted ice cream around my cobbler, um, I quickly requested just one more scoop… just one, but my server brought… two.
In addition to several menus loaded with decadent joy, Backstreet Café has an artichoke menu for a limited time. A definite treat is the shrimp stuffed artichoke bottom with lemon and bread crumbs. I can’t believe I didn’t order the artichoke risotto with baby artichokes and shaved parmesan! If you even semi heart artichokes, this menu will send you straight to heaven… creamy baby artichoke chowder… artichoke dip… artichoke cocktail… artichoke flatbread… Whew, an explosion of artichoke.
Let us not waste any more time without acknowledging the service at Backstreet Café. Seriously, considering I have reached stalker status, I now have expert knowledge pertaining to the service given at this restaurant. During lunch, dinner, or in between, the service is never lacking. All servers, as well as bartenders, know exactly what the deal is. Every ingredient and full description is at your beck and call. Several different people have waited on me and answered every question with clear precision.
Wine! Sean Beck! Star Chefs! Oh, sorry… lost myself for a moment. During a recent visit during brunch, a wedding was in the works. Sean could be seen outside talking with his… hands. Oh yes, he is a hand talker. It felt as though I had morphed back to the late 80’s onto the set of Steel Magnolias. A wedding bonanza extravaganza…
A plate filled with artisan cheese starts brunch off perfectly. The menu also offers asparagus and mushroom tart with caramelized onions and goat cheese. For the always present, deserving to eat, carnivore in your life… grilled bacon wrapped quail with cheddar chive biscuit and spicy smoked corn sauce will surely satiate their appetite. There is also the beef Carpaccio dish cured in salt and herbs, piquillo peppers, and garlic-mushroom compote toast.
The salmon rillettes appetizer is served with toast for… dipping. This dish caused the least amount of joy during all visits combined, which may be in part due to the fact that salmon makes me want to scream. Also on the app menu are crab cakes, as well as grilled flatbread with asparagus, fingerling potatoes, goat cheese, and green onion.
The crispy lobster sandwich captured my attention and kept it! Delivered on toasted brioche, it’s topped with tomato, arugula, and bacon. I asked for… no bacon. This sandwich is served with red pepper remoulade, potato salad, and spicy onion rings. My request to sub fruit was quickly approved.
Being from South Carolina, with a Granny fully capable of winning the Kiss My Grits competition, it’s fair to say… I know grits. The shrimp & stone ground cheese grits with green onion is creamy delish. Heart!
This is it… the big one… Brazilian spiny lobster tail is served with garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, and crab meat in a lemon butter sauce with corn pudding. This entrée is out of control… A spectacle of ultimate ridiculousness.
I tried two desserts during dinner, which were both fantastic. The apricot bars with rosemary shortbread & pistachio ice cream melted on my tongue in the best of the very best possible way. The pastry chef at Backstreet is ahead of the game.
The warm dark chocolate cake served with chocolate-raspberry sauce, candied walnuts, and house made chocolate ice cream… is another creation bringing forth dessert jubilation. Backstreet does have the handy dandy petit trio of sweets up for grabs. With this, upon delivery… prepare to receive a sampler of three mini dessert portions. On my dessert to-do list is the orange brioche bread pudding with bourbon sauce and ice cream.
Hugo and Tracy have succeeded in establishing themselves as two restaurateurs willing and able to give back to the community. The training of staff in their restaurants is impeccable, with service standards at a level all should maintain. The food, service, and atmosphere at Backstreet Café will not disappoint, with a gorgeous patio calling out… summoning all Houstonians to rejoice… Um, needless to say, AVH is a semi sorda fan of Backstreet Café.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch