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New World Order

The Brownstone tries to welcome the new while appreciating the old

Alas, lunch also brought out the one truly disappointing item I ran across in my recent visits: a grilled lemon chicken breast that came off as dry and tough. The only redeeming thing about the meat was the honey-ginger glaze, with its pleasant, almost bitter aftertaste. Though the accompanying confetti of Asian stir-fried vegetables was simple and good, as was the lemon-scented basmati rice with its floral undertones, they couldn't compensate for the problems with the meat. It may have just been a bad day for grilled chicken breasts, but still, unless basic dishes are going to be treated with the care given fancier old favorites and experimental new creations, they should be removed from the menu.

The bread, too, is less than stellar. I've been puzzled for a long time by why the Brownstone doesn't offer something superior to the slices of sourdough bread it serves with each main course, especially given the number of first-rate bakeries Houston now boasts. The inside of the bread merits no real complaints, but the crust is so tough as to be almost inedible. This is a detail that needs addressing.

For that matter, so is the piped-in music. While dinner was served to the sophisticated backdrop of classical guitar, during lunch I had to endure canned Muzak. Please! Surely loyal customers would tolerate eating their lunch to something a little less cheesy.

Location Info

Map

The Brownstone Cafe

2736 Virginia St.
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

But the joys that came with dessert helped me forget the pap my ears had to deal with. The creme brulee, always a good gauge of a dessert chef's expertise, was so rich, so thick, that it was more like whipped butter. At the mere touch of a spoon, its burnt sugar crust broke into the thinnest shards of what seemed like amber glass. I was also lucky enough to sample that day's addition to the dessert tray: a wild berry cream cake. Pillowlike layers of white cake alternated with crimson and scarlet tiers of wild berry jams. And a mascarpone cheesecake held together by an almond and chocolate turtle-style crust escaped the super-dense sourness that plagues some cream cheesecakes. Yum on all three counts. These are desserts that transcend categorization as either old school or new world. Here's hoping they're representative of the seamlessness with which Bass will lead the Brownstone's kitchen in its transition to a new culinary era.

The Brownstone, 2736 Virginia, 520-5666.

The Brownstone: wild mushroom soup with curry cream, $7; beef Wellington, $27; grilled quail and portobello mushroom salad, $11.50.

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