Washington Ave. Revisited

Forget what I said about Catalan – Chris Shepherd is one of the top toques in Texas.

I tried each of the meats — the ham was excellent and so were the pâtés, but the salami blew my mind. I studied the coarseness of the ground meat and the size of the fat chunks intently before I concluded that I wanted to start making summer sausage. I wish I could get Chris Shepherd to show me how.

Meanwhile, I noticed that my companion hadn't had any of the meats yet. She was so enamored of the chorizo cream sauce, she wouldn't let the busboy remove the bowl. I encouraged her to try the salami, but she was still intent on mopping up the salty, spicy clam-flavored cream.

When we finished off the appetizers, I suggested we should order some entrées. But she wasn't really hungry anymore and to tell the truth, neither was I. It was one of those perfect summer dinners with lots of interesting wine and enough food to satisfy your hunger, but not so much that you had to call it a night.

The cold  salmon is cured with Tabasco mash and served with a duck egg.
Daniel Kramer
The cold salmon is cured with Tabasco mash and served with a duck egg.

Location Info


Catalan Food & Wine Bar

5555 Washington St.
Houston, TX 77007

Category: Restaurant > Spanish

Region: Heights


Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays; 5 p.m. to midnight Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

Cockles in chorizo cream: $10

Charcuterie: $16

Pork belly and Steen's: $9

Shrimp and goat cheese grits: $25

Tabasco cured salmon: $12

5555 Washington Ave., suite A, 713-426-4260.

If you want to sample all of Chris Shepherd's latest favorites in a single sitting, try the "sandbox tasting" on the Chef's Playground section of the menu. It's $80 per person, and the whole table has to order it. Expect wild, inspired dishes — and come hungry.

So I guess it's time to fess up. Shortly after the place opened, I gave Shepherd grief for the ludicrous Catalonian theme and a menu that's all over the place. Now I'm taking visiting food critics there.

The fact is, Antonio Gianola is a fantastic sommelier. And Chris Shepherd is one of the most inventive chefs in Texas. I admire his craftsmanship and I've come to love his Southern, Mexican, Vietnamese and Mediterranean jumble of a menu. Forget what I said in the previous review. Catalan is one of Houston's best restaurants. I just wish they'd change the name.

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