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Frank's 14-ounce USDA prime rib eye steak was another matter. When I asked how good it was, my server, Joe, quickly replied, "It's dynamite!" He went on to gush about the accompanying Lyonnaise potatoes, adding that his mom would drive all the way from Galveston to eat them. Cutting open the steak's mahogany crust to reveal a flavorful, medium-rare, marbled red meat cooked to my exact specifications confirmed his assessment, as did my first forkful of the potatoes.
Crisp and garlicky, their texture approaching the almost-crunchy outer shell of the best iron-skillet potatoes, these Lyonnaise potatoes owe their unique deliciousness to a double-frying technique and a secret ingredient: duck fat. The fat took those potatoes over the edge from good to great, worthy of fanatical devotion. (I am a fan.)
An off-menu soft-shell crab special was another stunner, arriving at our table in whole-crab form blanketed in a honeyed panko-crumb shell, with a poached egg smothered in Béarnaise sauce nestled in the center of the crab, between its legs. The egg oozed beautifully yellow when we cut through the middle of its yolk, combining with the light-as-air textures of the sweet crabmeat to scrumptious effect. This dish is an absolute must-order if it is on the menu when you visit Frank's.
Houston, TX 77027
Region: Greenway Plaza
There were a few lackluster dishes that appeared during my three visits to the restaurant, none of them offensive but merely lacking in flavor. Be it a fluke or happenstance, I'm not quite sure, but all three were fish dishes: a blackened snapper over an okra and tomato ragout that was just okay, an off-menu special of crab-stuffed red snapper over butternut-squash risotto that was bland and a bit overcooked, and an ahi tuna and avocado crab tower that was noticeably lacking in seasoning.
I also found the desserts to be on the overly sweet side. Nonetheless, I loved that Frank's gives you the option of enjoying them as half orders. That allowed my two girlfriends and me to try four desserts instead of only three, enjoying a half berry cobbler and a half tres leches, along with a full-size bread pudding and a full-size toffee pudding.
In the grand scheme of things, these were small blips over the course of some very enjoyable meals, and they didn't matter so much, because there were plenty of other dishes worth coming back to.
If there's one thing to order at Frank's, it's the chicken-fried steak. A staple from when the restaurant was Frank's Chop House — and when it was named No. 56 on Robb Walsh's list of 100 favorite dishes in 2010 — the recipe has been tweaked by the Shines since they took over last year, and though it was already good, the dish is now better than ever. Even if you don't order it, which I had to force myself not to do on my second and third visits, seeing the impressively large mounds of chicken-fried ovals topped with pepper-cream gravy and nestled next to vegetables and tufts of whipped potatoes will no doubt make you want to do so.
"I want that chicken-fried steak," I found myself muttering after seeing at least five orders of it go by my table, trying to figure out how I could eat a plate of it big enough for two in addition to the ahi tuna tartare, cup of gumbo, tomato and avocado salad, and 14-ounce prime rib eye that I'd already ordered.
It was a dilemma I experienced on each of my visits to Frank's Americana Revival: the need to order well beyond what my stomach was capable of handling. It's not that the menu at Frank's is too large. In fact, it's a very well edited two-page affair, with the starters, salads and daily specials on one side and the entreés on the other.
The problem was that there were too many things that sounded good, too many items that I'd been craving without even knowing it until I saw the words in front of me — simple descriptions that were in and of themselves tantalizing because of what they represented: comfort. Comfort as in buttermilk fried chicken, chopped sirloin steak, liver and onions, chicken pot pie, Gouda mac and cheese, a fried green tomato BLT and that chicken-fried steak that I was dying to order.
The menu at Frank's Americana Revival is brimming with these types of dishes, items that evoke memories of happy childhoods with the family, food that makes you feel warm and fuzzy and cared for. Those things, along with the hospitality you'll get from the Shines, will make you feel right at home.
@FattyFatBastard That's the going rate for high-quality CFS in River Oaks, my friend. It's not unreasonable considering the portion size and the quality of the product. And truffles and/or foie gras would cost you considerably more than that anywhere you go.