Move Over, Cupcakes

Macarons have taken your place.

They're served on a bed of miso-butter rice dotted with black sesame seeds, and though I usually consider rice an afterthought, this stuff is good enough to make a meal of.

The menu will continue to evolve, and hopefully Martinez and Parmley will bring back some of the classics that made The Modular so popular back in the day (please do the bone marrow again, please!). To find The Modular before it takes off for Austin, and to see if they start cooking up kimchi shrimp and grits again, follow the truck on Twitter.

Where Are We Eating?

Ooh La La Dessert Boutique now sells macarons. From left: salted caramel, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, pistachio and tiramisu.
Kimberly Park
Ooh La La Dessert Boutique now sells macarons. From left: salted caramel, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, pistachio and tiramisu.
The blueberry vanilla bean macarons at Macaron by Patisse are adventurous yet quite popular.
Courtesy of Macaron by Patisse
The blueberry vanilla bean macarons at Macaron by Patisse are adventurous yet quite popular.

Craving Peruvian?
Head south to Chuyos.

James Brock

About 40 minutes south of Houston there's a small restaurant in a strip mall whose owners are from Lima, and they are making some very good and authentic Peruvian food. Ana Cecilia and Oscar Dasso opened the place in 2008, and it has since become a favorite of Peruvians and others looking forlomo saltado, ceviche or beef seco.

I spend a good deal of time in the Clear Lake area, and during the past several months a number of people have men­tioned Chuyos to me, so on a recent weekend I took a trip to League City, straight down 45 South, pork on my mind.

A clean, well-lighted place is Chuyos, and at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon it was host to a few families and several couples. The occupants of my table were the only ones not speaking Spanish, which I took as a good sign.

We started with mussel ceviche, which came to the table on a round platter, each "serving" nestled in a tasting spoon. Corn, chiles, onion, tomato, cilantro and slightly too much lime juice surrounded the mussels, and each spoonful was the perfect amount. The mussels had been transformed perfectly by the acid; they were done al dente, as I like mussels to be.

We then shared two empanadas, a fairly bland spinach version and one filled with beef, beef that tasted as if it had been braised in tomatoes and onions, deliciously so. The husband-and-wife team at Chuyos makes the dough for the empanadas, and one bite makes that evident: flaky, a proper chewy-to-crisp ratio and the perfect foil to the fillings. (One word of advice: Be sure to ask that your emapanadas be sufficiently heated; ours were lukewarm at best.)

Next came a sandwich, my favorite plate of the meal. It was a roll not dissimilar to Cuban bread stuffed with tender, almost juicy pork and crisp cabbage, plus fried sweet potatoes, both in the sandwich and served on the side. A bit of mayonnaise was the ideal condiment. Something magical happens when all the ingredients on a sandwich meld to create nearly perfect bites. This one is worth a drive to League City.

We finished with pionono, a traditional South American dessert that would make you think of angel food or strawberry shortcake, only this one is rolled around layers of dulce de leche neither too sweet nor thick.

We had come on that afternoon for lomo saltado, that mainstay of Peruvian cuisine, but were distracted — agreeably, it turned out — by other items on the menu. A return visit is on the calendar.

Restaurant News

Openings & Closings
El Gran Malo announces move and Killen's BBQ finally opens.

Molly Dunn

The popular tequila bar and gastrocantina El Gran Malo held its final day of food service on February 23 after its National Margarita Day celebration the day before. However, according to Houstonia's food blog, Gastronaut, El Gran Malo is not gone for good. It's just moving. Kevin Naderi of Roost has purchased the El Gran Malo building and plans to open another restaurant there. A Facebook event created for the move reads: "We are currently searching for a new home so remember, 'this is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just perhaps the end of the beginning.'" We'll just have to wait and see what the future holds for El Gran Malo and for Naderi's new restaurant.

Another "closing, but looking for a new place" announcement was made last week, this one by The Usual. Amy Chien of CultureMap reports that the lesbian pub and bar has closed after unsuccessful attempts to remodel. The owners are currently seeking another location in which to reopen.

Thanks to a comment from last week's openings and closings report, we know that Denis' Seafood House has closed, but only for construction, as stated on the home page of the restaurant's website.

If you haven't heard, Killen's Barbecue in Pearland is finally open. After months of getting to taste chef Ronnie Killen's beef ribs and brisket only during his Saturday pop-ups outside the restaurant under construction, customers can now sit down inside the Pearland destination. The Houston Press's Mai Pham broke the news that Killen's Barbecue would officially open on February 22. She reminisced about the previous weekend's pop-up, where she enjoyed tender, juicy brisket and crispy, crusted beef ribs. Word to the wise: Get to Pearland early — service starts at 11 a.m. — because once the last piece of barbecue is served, there won't be any more until the next day.

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