Cowboy Cookin'

After Grady Spears's departure, The Burning Pear still smolders

He was put in charge of several restaurants in Texas, in addition to one in Beverly Hills and another in Las Vegas. The Burning Pear and a couple of other restaurants were the result of a partnership with Marriott. Recently, however, the wheels have come off Spears's wagon. Articles began to surface about a prickly divorce. Not from his wife, but from Marriott. Seems that Cowboy and Corporate had a falling-out. It's unclear just what happened, but we do know that Spears is no longer affiliated with The Burning Pear -- and that he's broken with several other restaurants, too.

On my last visit, I wanted to try The Burning Pear's chicken-fried steak, which has developed quite a reputation. It was large but not excessively big. Spears's signature sourdough breading was completely greaseless and very tasty. And while the cracked-pepper gravy, with its pasty mouthfeel, held no appeal, the smoky mashed potatoes more than made up for the gravy's lack of taste.

Skip The Burning Pear's breakfast and go for dinner -- 
the rib eye and fried green tomatoes are excellent.
Troy Fields
Skip The Burning Pear's breakfast and go for dinner -- the rib eye and fried green tomatoes are excellent.

Location Info


The Burning Pear

16090 City Walk
Sugar Land, TX 77479

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Outside Houston


Breakfast buffet: $9.95
Chilaquiles: $9.50
Steak and roasted tomato eggs Benedict: $13.95
Fried green tomatoes: $6
Wild boar ribs: $9
Porterhouse pork chop: $20
Rib eye: $28
Coconut cream pie: $5
Chicken-fried steak: $14
Crab cakes: $14
16090 City Walk, Sugar Land, 281-275-5925. Hours: 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The chicken-fried steak was fabulous, but this last visit exposed other problems, from a missing hostess (we wandered around for several minutes in the lobby before a waiter seated us) to a lack of waitstaff (I ordered dessert from a busboy after not seeing my waiter for 30 minutes). Several other patrons noticed the poor service too, and some of them were comped part of their meals.

I wish we had been comped for our appetizer. We ordered the catfish cakes. The waiter told us they were now serving crab cakes instead of catfish cakes, and that he was sure we would love them. We didn't. Crab cakes are readily available at many Houston restaurants. Catfish cakes are not. But the real problem was the fact that the catfish cakes were on the menu for $7. We were charged $14 without having been advised ahead of time.

With the ouster of Spears, chef Clay Wilson has an opportunity to feature some outstanding regional Texas cuisine. However, no matter how good the "back of the house" may be, without the "front of the house" doing its part, they won't be able to round up customers much longer.

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