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Home to Roost

Young turk Kevin Naderi explores his roots and his passions at this homey spot on Fairview.

Don't want to wait? See inside the cozy-chic Roost for yourself in our slideshow.

It's a good thing Kevin Naderi didn't open his new restaurant, Roost, in the summer.

On a recent Friday night, I waited outside on a wooden picnic table with a bottle of wine and two friends. Our table could be ready in a few minutes, it could be ready in an hour and a half — that's the risk you take when coming to Roost on a busy evening, I told my friends. We were content to wait, however — a waitress from inside came out to check on us from time to time, refilling our wine glasses, and the cool spring night was inviting. But when summer in Houston hits, Naderi could have a hard time convincing people that Roost is worth the wait.

Neighborhood residents walk over for the fish of the day.
Troy Fields
Neighborhood residents walk over for the fish of the day.

Location Info

Map

Roost

1972 Fairview St.
Houston, TX 77019

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: River Oaks

Details

Hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Pickles: $5
Soup of the day: $5
Bread service: $6
Roasted cauliflower: $9
Fish of the day: $18
Country-fried quail: $18
Doughnut holes: $6

READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: Kevin Naderi Comes Home to Roost
BLOG POST: The Changing Cost of Bread Service

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So allow me.

Although it's only a little more than three months old, Roost is already one of the most impressive restaurants to come along in a few years. Bowls of buttery roasted cauliflower in a satiny miso broth with delicate flakes of bonito dancing across the top share the menu with country-fried quail in Steen's cane syrup and meaty gravy. Persian-inspired pickled vegetables and a bread service from Slow Dough with bacon-infused butter are simple but inspired appetizers. And the fact that none of these dishes — at a glance — have anything in common is what makes Roost so captivating.

Roost is a restaurant that perfectly captures the current Houston culinary zeitgeist. No longer do our most celebrated chefs labor for years learning and perfecting standards and classics. These days, it's about returning to and exploring your roots as well as your passions — no matter where in the world they came from. It's the era of the young turks, where wandering chefs come home not to play by the rules but to create their own.

In Kevin Naderi's case, that includes his own Persian heritage, the Southern farm-to-table aesthetic he embraced under Chef Randy Evans at Haven, Japanese flavors and ingredients picked up alongside Chef Robert Gadsby when he was still at Soma, and the Mediterranean and Thai influences so prevalent throughout Houston itself.

So many of our restaurants no longer neatly fit into "French" or "New American" or even "fusion" boxes, just like Roost's other new Montrose neighbors like Nabi and — more notably — Underbelly, where Chef Chris Shepherd wears his fondness of Houston's culinary pastiche on his sleeve. We are living in a post-fusion world.

"Fusion" itself, that nouvelle cuisine description, is a relic now and no longer relevant to describe a type of cuisine that's no more purposefully "fusion" than Malaysian food is: It's an organic kind of cuisine that is remarkable in how utterly unremarkable it is. It has just happened, a holistic outgrowth of the fact that our world gets smaller every single day, and we — as diners and as human beings — grow more comfortable with the dozens of influences and ingredients we encounter along the way.

This still leaves me with the problem of what to call Roost's cuisine. Naderi himself is referring to it as "American farm-to-table," but that doesn't seem a broad enough description to me. I'm selfishly inclined to call it "Houston cuisine" in the vein of "California cuisine," but I'm not vain or naïve enough to think that would ever catch on.

But is this a problem? Should there even be a one-size-fits-all description of restaurants like these? Maybe we should take each one as it comes, an individual as much as any human being is, and describe it based on all the facets of its personality, its foibles and idiosyncrasies and irresistible draws.
_____________________

When I describe Roost to people, it requires a complex description. But I'm okay with that — good restaurants are often complex things.

"It's a neighborhood bistro, kind of," I start off by explaining. "It's sort of farm-to-table — whatever that really means anymore — but it also has a lot of Japanese and Middle Eastern and Thai influences. And really good craft beer. And it's super-casual."

Usually, at least one of these things is enough to convince someone to give Roost a shot, although the restaurant certainly hasn't been without steady businesses since opening in mid-December. I like to think it's this combination effect that is such a draw.

Neighborhood residents enjoy having a restaurant to walk to, a place that's low-key and welcoming and as comfortable as home, but with better food. Inside, the warm dining room has the kind of low-slung ceilings and candlelit ambiance that encourage diners to linger, to take their meals slowly and with great relish. The space itself is blessed with the kind of quirky charm that only comes from moving into an old building. This one was home to a Cuban restaurant run by an equally quirky old abuelita before Naderi and his family bought it.

The dishes on the spare, smartly edited menu are designed for sharing in groups with friends, even the ones that are more "entree" than "small plate." Just try resisting your buddy's tomato salad with blissfully creamy burrata cheese and crisp, fresh arugula, or a fragrant yellow curry that comes topped with crunchy peanuts and filled with bright, seasonal vegetables that lands across the table from you. The only problem — and it's a stretch to call this a problem — is that the menu changes constantly, so don't expect to find a favorite dish and get it on every return visit.

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17 comments
CastanedaHarry
CastanedaHarry

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Willowtrees17
Willowtrees17

Katharine, your review is spot-on, at least based on my experiences. The food is great when it’s great, but the constantly changing menu combined with less experienced front-of-the-house folks causes some minor problems. I’ve never succeeded in getting a second (mediocre) glass of wine despite an empty glass, and several dishes have come out without certain advertised elements. Fortunately, it’s all forgivable given the restaurant’s age and price point!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

What a great write-up, Katharine. If I weren't already a fan, I'd definitely want to go after reading this. I don't think Roost is BYO anymore, though, is it? I thought that was only the first month.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Thanks! And - no, it's not BYOB anymore. Did I say that in the review? I can't find it if I did...

Nickhalston
Nickhalston

Parking is not an issue anymore since the ROOST's neighbor on the other side of Hazard has graciously given permission to park on his property on busy nights. It is just across street and a short walk from the resturant.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Nearly every time I've visited, I've parked in front of the townhomes at Fairview and McDuffie. And once I had to park at Fairview and Brun. No big deal; it's less than a two-block walk.

Beckett
Beckett

It's not the walk, it's parking in front of someone else's home.

Beckett
Beckett

Thank you, Katharine. I hoped it was a misunderstanding. Keep up the wonderful writing.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

My apologies. It's so difficult to read tone into comments on the Internet. And so often, the discussions lately have revolved around residents being angry that restaurants are opening and taking "their" parking away, that I jumped to conclusions. My apologies, again.

Beckett
Beckett

Btw, the attacks on me here and on Twitter? What's that about? I asked a simple question because the info was not in the article and I didn't see it on Roost's page. Nickhalston, thank you for being nice. I will park where you said. I love Montrose and I wish I could afford to live there.

Beckett
Beckett

I agree 100% but the last time I parked in front of a residence in Montrose ( was going somewhere other than Roost) I got towed for blocking a private drive and my car was nowhere near the edge of that driveway. My car is really small. Was really just wondering if Roost had parking that I didn't know about. Sorry to upset everyone.

Flip
Flip

Someone else's home who DOESN'T OWN THE STREET IN FRONT OF THEIR HOUSE NOR DO THEY OWN THE EASEMENT!

CMN
CMN

You must be lost. I think you mean to be talking with the city on getting your street converted to permit parking. Good luck with that.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

You mean...on a public street? In a densely populated area that's long been a mix of commercial and residential spaces? Those people have driveways and garages in which to park their cars/guests. I'm afraid I don't see the problem here.

 
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