Monday, February 09, 2009

Updates: Bedford, Beaver's

Bedford and Beaver's Ice House are works in progress. Both Inner Loop restaurants had slightly awkward starts. But both have oustanding chefs and the potential to rank among Houston's top restaurants.

Bedford for lunch

Bedford is now open for lunch. With most items in the $10 - $14 range, lunch is the most economical way to try this upscale restaurant.

A plate of braised short ribs is served with short ribs, braised pork belly, mashed potatoes, black-eyed peas, and a vinegary jus. The short ribs and belly were remarkably lean for those cuts of meat. But they fell apart with the touch of a fork and were full of flavor. My guess is that they benefited from a lengthy braising time. I also was impressed with the meaty, vinegary jus, which had more bite than I expected. It is a warming dish on a cold winter day.

In December my biggest complaint about Bedford had been the space. It felt cavernous, cold, and empty. Part of the problem was that chairs and tables had been moved to accommodate a large group. And part of the problem was the lack of color.

Now the space seems warmer now with new modern art on the wall. And when the tables are configured normally, it does not feel so cavernous. Still, I just don't get the dull brown light fixtures.

Officially, Bedford is not open yet. It's "grand opening" is February 28th. But it is unofficially open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.

Robert Gadsby is one of our best chefs. If it can survive the downturn, Bedford should be one of Houston's best restaurants.

A tasting menu at Beaver's

Beaver's had a rocky start. The dishes I tried in the first year were nothing special. But I knew that the food would improve with the addition of Chef Jonathan Jones.

Last week, a group of food bloggers tried Beaver's for a tasting menu lunch. Food Princess has a longer description with photos of the event.

Many of the best dishes are not currently on the menu -- raw oysters, oyster nachos, a fried fish, and vegetarian tamales. Sadly, the barbecue was mostly gone before the platter reached me. But I did try some flavorful smoked chicken.

Based on what I tried, Chef JJ is living up to his promise. And the food at Beaver's is much, much better.

But one puzzle remains: why is it taking so long for Chef JJ's creations to make it on to the menu? The menu continues to include a number of older, dull dishes, that pre-dated his arrival. I'm hoping to see the menu change rapdily and start including some of these great new dishes that the bloggers tried last week.

The Beaver's concept captures the essence of Houston's laid-back culture and our local food. It could become one of the city's defining restaurants -- the sort of place where you want to take your out-of-town guests to show them what Houston food is really like.


Anonymous said...

I wish Beaver's would bring back the original Beaver Balls. They were great and JJ's newer version are not good. Also, bring back the sweet potato fries. The BBQ has gotten much better. I think they are really starting to hit their stride.

Misha said...

I loved the deep fried Blue Runner collar paired with ceviche and the oyster dishes. That's just the sort of food I'd love to see Beaver's add to their regular menu.

plinio said...

do you really want the beaver balls back? to be frank, they looked like real ball sacks covered with white goo. not something i want to eat. my friends wouldn't touch them with a tenfoot pole!

as for the sweet potato fries. i love sweet potato fries. i'll order anytime i see them on a menu. but the ones i had a beaver's were limp and extremely greasy.

i third for the change in menus. jj's food is just ridiculously delicious and i'd like to see more of it on the menu. then this place would be a huge sucess, like rob walsh said.

a few nights ago i tried jj's spam-wow sandwich. spam, fried egg, bacon, texas toast, potato chips. it was glorious!!

i can't wait for his white trash dinner ... if only i could get off work one night.

spam carpaccio anyone?

Rubiao said...

The last time I ate at Beavers it was not good; can you just go in on any night and order oyster nachos?

And tell me more about the white trash dinner. Hopefully lone star goes down to two bucks.

The Bedford lunch does sound like a winter treat. Any ideas on where to get a pork belly in Houston if you wanted to cook it yourself? Tough to find anything outside of salt pork.

Anonymous said...

Korean grocers sell pork belly.

Anonymous said...

I sorta want to get your thoughts on the fact that "the grand opening is february 28th"

If a restaurant like that is charging me close to three figures a head, then should I expect to give them slack because they aren't "technically" open?

The restaurant was okay to great, but that's a whole bunch of bullshit if you ask me.

I think I should get a discount on my meal because they weren't trying their hardest =D

Anonymous said...

I agree with the commenter above. Bedford was sufficiently "open" to charge very high prices for very mediocre food. In addition, the service was appalling and there were typos on the menu. Last of all, the decor is bland and boring.

Is this some new trend to pretend to "not be open" for the first 3 months so that they get a grace period while diners fork out money for a meal riddled with errors?