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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.

Perhaps the best appetizer is house-smoked salmon "served with traditional accompaniments." Turns out these traditional accompaniments include everything one could want with smoked salmon — crispy bagel toast, diced onions, dollops of whipped cream, capers, hard-boiled eggs and a decoratively sliced lemon. Oh, and microgreens. The deconstructed lox and bagels is one dish at Mr. Peeples that's as spectacular in taste as it is in presentation.

But as the restaurant's slogan suggests, it's the cooked-to-order steaks and the expensive seafood entrées that Mr. Peeples is most proud of. Much of the top-dollar cuisine here can be disappointing, but I'll give the restaurant props for its near-perfect pork chops. The double Berkshire chops glazed with honey and perched atop a caramelized onion and apple slaw demonstrate how sweet and savory can work together harmoniously. There's nothing excessive about this dish. The chops are seasoned with salt and pepper, then pan-fried in the honey glaze and served with a single sprig of rosemary. Every aspect — from the light seasoning to the slight crust that keeps the interior juicy — is well executed.

I cannot say the same about the Wagyu steak, however, whose price increases if you want sauce or anything other than a single hunk of meat on your plate. I ordered mine medium-rare. The waiter dropped it off at the table, then walked away with nothing but a quickly uttered "Enjoy." When I cut into the steak, it was immediately obvious that it was well-done (on its way to desiccated), but the server was nowhere to be found. I hailed a busboy, who politely agreed to inquire about a new steak. When my server reappeared, he seemed jovial, as if pleased I'd already eaten the impeccable piece of meat.

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


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By the time the new (smaller) steak was ready, my companions had nearly finished their pork chops and luxurious but questionably sweet vanilla lobster risotto. The steak was good, and the $15 Oscar sauce that topped it was salty. That's about all I have to say about that.

Have you been keeping track of how many things I described as sweet, sugary or saccharine? Have you counted how many of those were desserts? Don't bother. None of them was a dessert, because the desserts at Mr. Peeples are in a sweet and mushy category all their own.

I was honestly surprised by the unimpressive white chocolate bread pudding and confusing strawberry cheesecake, because I've had other desserts made elsewhere by the pastry chef, Johnny "Sweetcakes" Wesley, and they were interesting, delicious and beautiful. Perhaps the server steered me wrong; "the best bread pudding in Houston" tasted like challah bread soaked in sweet milk, then baked for a few minutes, while the cheesecake with "strawberries three ways" and a crust of crushed graham crackers left me scratching my head. Crushed graham crackers look a lot like dirt, and one of the three ways the strawberries were presented was chopped — as if this were a feat of culinary excellence.

At brunch the next day, in between sipping on a Bloody Mary that tasted as if it had been made with a cheap mix  and trying to figure out if the chandeliers were actually that fantastic or if their glowing hues came from nearby colored bulbs shining on them, I ran the previous evening through my mind. Had I gone back in time to a club in the late '80s, where atmosphere trumps taste and surf and turf is the dish du jour? What was in that risotto that made it so mysteriously sweet? Was that Einstein painted on the wall? Is this really the future of Midtown dining?
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Adding together the valet, the cocktails and wine, the appetizers, entrées and desserts, a dinner for two at Mr. Peeples can run you about $200. Some of the things you eat, such as the smoked salmon and the pork chops, will be worth it. Most of the rest of the menu can be found elsewhere around Houston for less money and with less pretense.

It's an interesting place, I'll give it that. And it seems to be someone's idea of what Houstonians want, though I don't personally know anyone who seeks out crystal and spray paint and velour and steak — and microgreens — all in one convenient location. In a way, those damn microgreens are a metaphor for Mr. Peeples as a whole. Aside from a few particular types of flavor-packed baby greens, such as cilantro or Italian basil, they don't add anything substantive to the meal. They're decorative. They proclaim to the diner, "This is fancy and pretty and expensive, and someone put a lot of thought into it."

Someone put a lot of thought into that funky decor, too, and really, that's what you're paying for at Mr. Peeples. The atmosphere. And the DJ. And the microgreens.

kaitlin.steinberg@houstonpress.com

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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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