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.