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For Richer or Poorer

The po-boys at Zimm's Little Deck come up short.

The small plates, too, are conducive to this. Croque Monsieur hushpuppies don't taste much like cornmeal, but they do taste of honey ham and gooey Swiss cheese. Pate is slightly chunky, country-style stuff that's easy on the garlic and imminently wolf-able. The macaroni and cheese served in a tiny cast-iron skillet is a bit grainy (Zimm's should really make a béchamel first for its cheese sauce), but well-seasoned and tasty, with a bread-crumb crust that's made alluringly crispy in the oven. The gumbo was the only real disappointment, its "roux" incredibly light and tasting, as Jason put it, "like chicken broth" except for the nicely peppery andouille sausage chunks it contained. Cory steered us away on one visit from the breaded clam strips in the small plates section, claiming that the clams are too small and are overwhelmed by the breading. I appreciated this, especially when he recommended the fresh calamari instead.

Zimm's doesn't have a single freezer on site, so you can be assured that all the seafood you're eating is quite fresh. That calamari was a revelation: incredibly tender, nearly melting in my mouth. If you've only had that awful, rubbery calamari at cheap chain restaurants, get thee to Zimm's and see what squid should really taste like. The basket is served with two of the restaurant's best sauces — a creamy lemon aioli and a green Tabasco mash sauce with chunks of green chiles throughout. I would love to see these sauces on some of the po-boys, as they're clearly not given the same consideration as the rich boys are. Along with better, crustier bread, it would make masterpieces out of them.

Those po-boys aren't much cheaper than their rich boy counterparts, coming in at $12 for a fried shrimp or fried oyster and $9 for a roast beef. And although the seafood is fresh and nicely battered, the po-boys come underdressed and dry. Ironically, the one po-boy I got that was dressed correctly contained so much overly sugary cocktail sauce that I could eat only one half.

Skip the po-boys and go for the cocktails and small plates, especially the calamari.
Troy Fields
Skip the po-boys and go for the cocktails and small plates, especially the calamari.

Location Info

Map

Zimm's Little Deck

601 Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Restaurant > Cajun

Region: Montrose

Details

Hours: 10 a.m. to midnight, Sundays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Fridays through Saturdays.

Dozen Gulf oysters: $17

Gumbo: $4

Calamari: $9

Pate: $7

Fried shrimp po-boy: $12

Fried oyster po-boy: $12

Le Grand Cochon: $12

Casablanca: $15

Chocolate bread pudding: $9

Zimm's Little Deck

601 Richmond, 713-527-8328.

Although the po-boys (and the rich boys) are small, they do come with house-made potato chips and dill pickles that are made after Chef Robison's father's recipe. On my first visit, those potato chips were an interesting side item, perhaps too thickly cut and too well-done, but inoffensive. On return visits, it was clear that the fry oil used to cook them was stale and dirty. Not one of my dining partners liked them.

Luckily, the pickles remain as wonderful as on that first visit, liberally flavored with fresh dill and a light touch of vinegar. The result is that they still taste and crunch like cucumbers, a refreshing move away from overly pickled vegetables that almost leave a film on the palate.

If only those sandwiches would just come up to par, too. A recent visit left me thoroughly disappointed in both my Grand Cochon and my dining companion's Casablanca rich boys. The pork in my rich boy was woefully underseasoned, tasting like a pork butt that someone had thrown into a crock pot with no seasonings, then shredded and put between two pasty lumps of bread. The red cabbage slaw beneath it was equally bland. My dining companion's Casablanca was slightly better, but her lamb tasted mostly gamy — where was that skillfully and subtly seasoned lamb I'd tried back in November?

Thankfully, we put our sandwiches aside and found refuge in another area of the menu that Zimm's does get right: desserts. A shared skillet of Valrhona chocolate bread pudding and a glass of Tempranillo later — served in unfussy tumblers that fit the cozy vibe here — we'd nearly forgotten about the sandwiches and were already debating pétanque teams for the coming summer.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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18 comments
Dbeveridge2003
Dbeveridge2003

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wms
wms

Zimms or Danton's, who cares? One word. Calliope.

Charlz
Charlz

Caliope's Po-boys are a great choice. Take it from a real Cajun! $15 for oysters, they can have 'em!!

I am very unimpressed with "cajun" places in Houston Ragin Cajun SUCKS!! and Boudreaux's is bland.. Can someone please quit trying to imitate!!

Mike_mcr
Mike_mcr

$7.00 for a St. Arnold beer. No thanks...

Chef504
Chef504

The great New Orleans trap. I went to University there, Culinary school there and lived there for years. People love to take what works in New Orleans change it and try it somewhere else. That approach never works for long. I have never heard of a rich boy, and am very glad to say that. If a place can't get the po-boy right then sign that place off. The perfect po-boy is simple and should stay that way. I'll be happy to give anyone my recipe. $17 for a dozen oysters not even if Scarlett Johansson was shucking them topless baby. To be from New Orleans and spell it Nawlins your on the gas. To call a po-boy a Huey Long, that makes me think that after I eat it I will have to keep paying for it. I'm not sure I would name anything after him. I make it a habit to avoid places that use gimmicks to force New Orleans down your throat. If you are eating at a place and without any props around or not so clever menu listing say to yourself, hey this sorta reminds me of NOLa then that place has done it right. The secret to great New Orleans cuisine is to let the food be the star. I have never gone back to a restaurant because the ambiance made my belly happy.

Jeff
Jeff

After eating at this place three times, I have to say, I'll probably never go back. The menu items are described in mouthwatering fashion, which made me return to try a variety of things, but each time was a disappointment. The food was ok, but it wasn't sublime even the slightest bit. The food tasted dirty, dusty and overworked which is maybe how one expects New Orleans style food to taste. The 8 or 9 potato chips you get with a 12 dollar sandwich tasted like burnt grease. The lamb sausage sandwich tasted pretty good. The croque monsieur hushpuppies were fairly tasty, but WAY overpriced for a paltry 4 or 5 bites. The thing that kills me about this place is that they're called Zimm's Little Deck. There is no deck to be found! The *patio* suffers from a bland gravel expanse for a petanque (sp) court with no greenery or vegetation. It really should be filled with potted plants and palms to hide the noisy Richmond speedway with cars flying down the road at 40mph. How pretentious to think that people who just dropped loads of cash to eat and drink are going to play some obscure European park game 3 feet from a busy, noisy road. Instead their "deck" is a few chairs and tables (which don't have a comfortable dining height) hugging the side of the restaurant while 80 percent of the outdoor space is a barren desert of gravel. For such a cute restaurant/bar, the outside suffers immensely. Hire a landscape professional, make it a lush patio, but a "deck" (a structure of planks and boards) it certainly isn't.

FromTheHood
FromTheHood

Overpriced for sure. Way overpriced. Way to keep out the bulk of the neighbors in the area for sure. No riff-raff for Zimm's, only their rich friends in their overpriced cars.

Adsa
Adsa

This place is pure crap!

Abz
Abz

The freezer is outside the restaurant. When we walked up the line cook was taking a box out of the freezer and then ran it under water to defrost. I observed the "defrost" process as I ate at the bar. Sorry to burst the bubble.

nola yarddawgs
nola yarddawgs

Come down and have a real po'boy at the zoo... yeah that's right! the zoo, a well hidden little spot with the best roast beef po'boy!... ya better get some napkins!

TJ
TJ

I don't know... I'd pay $17 a dozen to see Scarlett Johansson shucking oysters topless, as long as she wasn't wearing an apron.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

"$17 for a dozen oysters not even if Scarlett Johansson was shucking them topless baby." This made my day. Ha!

3Steel Balls
3Steel Balls

If you happen to be European, Petanque is not obscure. If you played the game, you'd probably like it. I don't think you can call it pretentious by any means. Just because you've never heard of something that millions of others have heard of and play every day doesn't make it pretentious. We are talking about a game where you throw steel balls at other steel balls in gravel, not high tea at 4.

To me, having a bar where I can enjoy a few decent bites and copious amounts of cold beer along with a good game of petanque with my friends makes it all worth the price of admission.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Will confirm this myself, but in the meantime...damn. Yet another bad mark for Zimm's if that's true: Lying straight to our faces when we asked if the squid and clams had been frozen.

Rachelneff
Rachelneff

By that logic, if they have an oven, then what you ate was baked calamari....

Abz
Abz

To be fair it was a box of frozen shrimp I saw (2 to be exact) so maybe the clams and squid were fresh but I'll leave that up to your investigation.

GilchristJ
GilchristJ

Frozen doesn't mean bad. In fact, most would prefer well-frozen and properly thawed to 'fresh' stuff that sounds good, but loses its freshness more quickly than most care to admit, especially when it comes to seafood.

 
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