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All That Glitters Isn't Gold at Mr. Peeples

From the food to the atmosphere, Mr. Peeples is best described as sweet and mushy.

Want a closer look at Mr. Peeples? Check out this slideshow!

Is this really the future of Midtown dining?

Coming back for brunch the next day was like returning to the scene of a crime.

Under the harsh light of day, the previous night's gluttonous escapades seemed somehow dirtier, the revelry less validated. Even the waitstaff had a different air about them, slower and almost guilty, as if they, too, had been overcome by the smorgasbord of food and alcohol and glittering lights and loud, reverberating techno music from the night before.

The double pork chops at Mr. Peeples are a lesson in delicious simplicity that the rest of the menu should attempt to follow.
Troy Fields
The double pork chops at Mr. Peeples are a lesson in delicious simplicity that the rest of the menu should attempt to follow.

Location Info

Map

Mr. Peeples Seafood & Steak

1911 Bagby St.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 4 to 10 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday 4 to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Campechano: $15
Crab cakes: $16
House-smoked salmon: $15
Baby arugula salad: $10
Local mixed greens salad: $9
Lobster and crab bisque $10
Chilean sea bass: $40
Lobster risotto: $30 (brunch), $33 (dinner)
Wagyu: Market Price
Double pork chop: $35
Jumbo lump crab omelet: $17
Captain Crunch French toast: $16
All desserts: $9


For more about Mr. Peeples:

Slideshow: A Closer Look at Mr. Peeples Seafood & Steak
Blog: Mr. Peeples Isn't Kidding, But I Kind of Wish It Was


Sidling up to the bar for some eggs and hair of the dog, I wondered if the place should even be open before dark. Sure, there were plenty of people stopping by for smoked salmon omelets and Captain Crunch French toast, but does anyone really need the option of $30 lobster risotto or petit filet mignon at noon? Does anyone yearn to dine nestled in plush, overstuffed, scarlet-red chairs beneath ornate pink crystal chandeliers while completely sober? Is graffiti as hip and alluring in the glow of daylight as it is when seen through shafts of purple and fuchsia light, illuminating a word ("dance") here or an image (Pee-wee Herman) there?

In my opinion, the answers are no, no and no.

As I ate my jumbo lump crab omelet to the sounds of a techno remix of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold," I couldn't help wondering if this place was, somehow, someone's idea of an inside joke. When a restaurant group has enough money, it can open whatever the hell it wants and hope that curiosity and hype alone keep it afloat, right? How else to explain the 40,000-square-foot-hip-hop-lounge-meets-Vegas-steakhouse-circa-1987-meets-the-set-of-Prince's-Purple Rain that is the inimitable Mr.Peeples?

Am I missing something?

The crab-meat omelet I had for brunch was probably the best thing I ate at the newest project from the Landmark Houston Hospitality Group, which unveiled Mr. Peeples at the end of July this year. The restaurant's slogan is "Seafood. Steak. Style", but I found the less stylish dishes to be more alluring than the overwrought steaks and the sometimes superfluous lobster for lobster's sake.

Of course, it's hard to mess up an omelet, but I appreciate that Mr. Peeples doesn't endeavor to do so. Three fluffy eggs envelop chunks of ripe avocado, marinated artichoke hearts and crab meat as good as what you could get at any fresh-seafood dive. On the side is a perfectly fine potato and bell pepper hash. The omelet is topped with roasted tomato salsa and microgreens, an omnipresent garnish at Mr. Peeples. It was filling. It was tasty. It didn't challenge me, but it served its purpose, which was to be flavorful and sate my hunger. But the entire time I was eating it (and listening to the bartender tell me about the novel he's writing), I kept thinking about similar omelets available elsewhere for less money.

Of course, other omelets don't come with glittering chandeliers and red velvet pool tables and microgreens.
_____________________

"Sweet" and "mushy" are the words we settled upon to describe Mr. Peeples. Sweet and mushy.

Even before dessert arrived, we'd unanimously agreed that those two adjectives best characterized the food, which is unfortunate, because, generally, the only course that should be sweet and mushy is dessert.

And then there's the atmosphere, which, in spite of the restaurant's desperate attempt to be hip and edgy, also feels sweet. And mushy. Describing it can sound like a monologue from Saturday Night Live's Stefon.

"This place has everything: Artist-commissioned graffiti with Banksy-esque stencils; gilded fences guarding the entranceway that may or may not be repurposed headboards from a kinky Medieval bed; curtained VIP lounge rooms that invite some hanky-panky while you wait for a table; ever-changing LED disco lights; chandeliers that glow without any apparent light source; husky-voiced waiters who know how to sell steak; women shivering because they're not dressed for the cold and/or the decor is giving them a seizure; dazzled drunks; confused Midwesterners; a DJ ruining all your favorite hits from Club 6400; shag carpet; topiaries; and enough purple to make Tinkie Winkie blush."

The over-the-top glitzy design could be forgiven if the food lived up to the intrigue of the space. But the menu, which focuses on steaks and seafood prepared in every classic style from campechano to coconut-crusted, seems humdrum, even under glowing neon lights.

Take the crab cakes, for example. They're possessed of plenty of lump crab meat with nary a shell in sight, but they're so undercooked that they don't hold together at all. Even the dark sear on the outside of each half-dollar-sized nugget cannot mask the fact that they're more crab mush than crab cake. The flavor is fine (if oddly saccharine), but the cilantro aioli, Dijon cream and maddening microgreens that accompany the appetizer do little to make it stand out amid a sea of other crustacean dishes.

The campechano (as it's written on the menu) — which, when referring to the food and not the Spanish word for "friendly" should be spelled campechana — is full of excellent lobster and crab meat and served in a martini glass surrounded by bright yellow strips of fried plantain chips. It paints a colorful picture, but suffers from too much sugary ketchup and not enough acidic citrus and spicy chile sauce.

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3 comments
ledoo1
ledoo1

I give this place another year and it will be gone. Food is awful. All the clubs in this area only last a few years, I expect this club disguised as a restaurant will too. With so many good restaurants in Houston,why bother going here?

samanthap
samanthap

Where does the name Mr Peeples come from? Is there a guy bearing such a moniker? For some reason, it brings to mind Martin Scorsese with bushy eyebrows behind big glasses.

jimbo1126
jimbo1126

Best opening sentence of a review ever. Though, this is one place I'll probably try in spite of itself.

 
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