Mar 02, 2011 0
A semi shady pool hall has been transformed into Branch Water Tavern, seeking only those worthy of its modern green décor & dark hardwood floor. Consumed with an explosion of 80’s music, the sound produces sporadic moments of musical ecstasy.
Classic New American cuisine is offered, with an open kitchen enticing one’s imagination that much more. Branch Water Tavern describes the menu as “seasonally inspired, featuring local organic meat and produce, locally sourced fish and seafood, and an extensive cured meat and charcuterie program.”
Food and music are only part of the attractive factor, with a bar capable of massively holding its own. Evan Turner, beverage director and partner, puts the “T” in Tavern. He’s not playing games with any aspect of this bar, compiling a luscious wine list, sophisticated enough to compliment any taste. Um, let us now quote this master mixologist…
“Every sommelier dreams of working on a list from the ground up. Branch Water Tavern offers me that opportunity for the first time ever, not only for wines, but handcrafted beers and signature cocktails as well.”
Super Sommelier Sniffle.
While studying at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, owner-executive chef David Grossman spent time in San Francisco working with chef Roland Passot of La Folie. After graduating, well above champion student status, he went on to share his chefness with Alfred Portale at Gotham Bar & Grill in New York City.
This chef has clearly reached a level many aspire… to acquire. His reputation as one of the chefs to watch is an achievement arriving early. He joins a select few being honored this month by Star Chefs, the magazine for culinary insiders.
The gala and awards ceremony, being held at the Four Seasons, showcases “Rising Stars” of Houston. Also being recognized as rising star chefs are Seth Siegel-Gardner & Manabu Horiuchi, both of Kata Robata, Randy Rucker of Bootsie’s Heritage Cafe, Jeramie Robison of Cinq at La Colombe d’Or, and Chris Shepherd of Catalan Food & Wine.
Sous chef Timothy Andrews is a logical choice for the position of right hand man to executive chef Grossman. After watching this guy for a few hours, a spastic urge to give him a hug arrived. He just looks like he would be okay with it. After consulting my therapist, acting on this impulse was… denied.
Sous chef Andrews later stopped by to discuss the many different methods of preparation used in creating each outstanding dish.
What better way to start the day than with Duck Fat Popcorn. Um, duck fat is used as a butter substitution. Gulp. Although quite tasty, total duck repression began to battle my brain. Moving right along…
A variety of appetizers & sandwiches cause many to buzz, especially the chicken fried oysters with celery root slaw & Frank’s red hot sauce. Po-Boys, burgers, and the extra special bacon confit, lettuce, tomato & avocado sandwich are ready & waiting for anxious incisors to commence.
Magnificent! Gulf oysters on half shell are amazingly fresh & surprisingly juicy… served over crispy cold ice. Cocktail & horseradish are served mixed together to perfection. Just spicy enough, with a bit of a kick! I. Want. More.
Sunday Brunch is STUPENDOUS all the way around… chocolate chip pancakes with Vermont syrup… crab cakes with harissa, bernaise & a fried egg … challah French toast with clementines & vanilla anglaise. It almost hurts.
The steamed mussel appetizer is sautéed, cooked in its own juices, with a combination of harissa, a North African pepper paste, coriander, lardons, shallots, a little tomato & crispy garlic on top. Riesling, which is a slightly sweet wine, is used in preparation, which goes well with the saltiness. The mussels are as plump, almost fluffy, as any in the city, with the most delicious juices imaginable!
Um, dreaded rookie status prevailed as the request to 86… lardons… ceased to occur. His sous chefness said this foodie need not fret, soon returning with pig free fare.
Beets are oven roasted with citrus & herbs, served with arugula & Humboldt fog cheese. Made from morning & night milkings, it is separated by vegetable ash. The arugula is dressed with sherry, vinegar, shallots & candied pistachios.
Since the beginning of summer, my favorite dish to devour at Branch Water Tavern is the shrimp & white cheddar grits. Large… prawns… are seared on both sides and nestled atop heirloom grits, which come from Waco, Texas. Beneath, a slow poached egg can be found waiting to become one with this ambrosial gift. Without a special request for exclusion, this entrée will arrive wrapped in smokehouse bacon. Ouch.
With the help of a super chic bartender, rockin hair gel & a burgundy vest, deciding on dessert soon became an effortless task. Dessert satisfaction is certain when ordering the sticky toffee pudding. Served warm & topped with pistachio ice cream and… brittle, caramel simply oozes from the plate. GQ Magazine named Branch Water Tavern’s sticky toffee pudding one of the five best desserts in America. Amen Mr.
Executive chef David Grossman is a young chef with unstoppable talent & a profound drive for excellence. The foundation has been laid and the building has begun. A rising star for now, this chef’s future is one Houstonians will be fortunate to follow.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch