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60 Degrees Mastercrafted Is All About Meat, But It's the Seafood that Caught Our Fancy

A restaurant built on quality ingredients has a shaky foundation.

60 Degrees Mastercrafted Is All About Meat, But It's the Seafood that Caught Our Fancy
Troy Fields
The "Catch of the Day" is a good bet anytime.

In a sea of specials and featured dishes and staff favorites, the catch of the day stood out: a simple fillet of red snapper atop a bed of eggplant and tomato risotto in lemon butter sauce dotted with capers. Drizzled on top, an oily, spicy pesto, and thrown in for good measure but definitely not an afterthought, two crunchy fried oysters.

It seemed incongruous, this mixture of Southern-style oysters with Italian risotto and French beurre blanc. It seemed incongruous, and so I wanted it, if only to confirm my suspicion that it was too much of a good thing. When it came to the table, last of all the orders to arrive, I felt my skepticism justified. It was a nondescript pile of food, mushy-looking aside from the oysters. I dug into a steak burger, content to let a friend explore the fish for a moment before I gave it my time. After I'd taken only one bite of the burger, though, my friend pushed the plate toward me.

"You have to have this. Try this. No, get the sauce, too. Wait, put some oyster on top. Yes, now it's the perfect bite."

In spite of the ongoing construction on Westheimer, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted's patio is an ideal spot to enjoy a leisurely brunch.
Troy Fields
In spite of the ongoing construction on Westheimer, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted's patio is an ideal spot to enjoy a leisurely brunch.
Chef Fritz Gitschner is one of only 66 Certified Master Chefs in the world, and lucky for us, he chooses to cook here in Houston.
Troy Fields
Chef Fritz Gitschner is one of only 66 Certified Master Chefs in the world, and lucky for us, he chooses to cook here in Houston.

Location Info

Map

60 Degrees Mastercrafted

2300 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Details

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Brunch: $37

Tejas chili: $9.50

Salmon trio: $19

Tex-Mex salad: $18.50

Three pork: $27.50

Steak burger: $32

Fish of the day: MKT

And it was. For all my cynicism, the fish — and the chef — had made a believer of me. The risotto was perfectly cooked, still a bit chewy but not underdone. The stewed eggplant and tomato slices married wonderfully with the vinegary beurre blanc sauce, all of it coating the snapper without detracting from its naturally briny flavor. And the oysters...I'll be damned if they weren't some of the best fried oysters I've had outside of Louisiana. I was very pleasantly surprised.

It's not that I thought the chef incapable of greatness. Nor did I think the ingredients would be subpar or a special dish not fully considered. I was startled to find the fish of the day so wonderfully alluring because I was smack-dab in the middle of a meat mecca.

At 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, meat is the main attraction. The "ranch-to-table" restaurant focuses on high-quality Akaushi beef, burgers, steaks, and the occasional chicken or pork dish. It's cowboy cookin', y'all, and cowboys eat meat.

But though it's ranch-style dining, this is still the type of place for which you change into slacks and heels and hire a babysitter for the evening. It's rustic in some ways and luxurious in others. It's cowboy cuisine with a kick. It's homey, family-style dining with a killer wine list and even better seafood. This is a place where it helps to be known.

Yes, on this ranch, there are far more than 60 degrees. In the course of a single meal, you can experience a 180-degree shift — from steak to raw seafood, from playful fare to serious eats, from zero service to exceptional service. Some of that depends on what you order. Some of it depends on who you are.
_____________________

When 60 Degrees Mastercrafted opened in November, the first thing that got people talking wasn't the prime space on Westheimer just on the outskirts of Upper Kirby. Nor was it the chef, Fritz Gitschner, a Certified Master Chef (more on that later), originally from Austria. It wasn't even the unusual "ranch-to-table" concept featuring all the high-quality beef you can eat. No, it was the name. 60 Degrees Mastercrafted.

Press releases explained a link to geometry and the angles of an equilateral triangle. There's a small note at the bottom of each menu, too, explaining the somewhat nebulous reasoning behind the moniker: "The idea for '60 Degrees Mastercrafted' derives from the three angles of an equilateral triangle, 60 degrees each, representing the three angles of a complete dining experience: quality ingredients, creative and innovative food, and friendly service in a comfortable atmosphere. The triangle plays a prominent role in the company's branding serving as a reminder to both staff and patrons of the restaurant's promise."

Quality ingredients, innovative food and friendly service are the foundations upon which the very Texan restaurant was laid, and now, nearly eight months after introducing Houstonians to the concept, they seem to be catching on, even if the foundation is still a bit shaky. Quality ingredients can be relied upon. The other two "angles of a complete dining experience"? They're there, but perhaps to a lesser degree.

Take service. Generally friendly, yes, but friendlier still if you appear moneyed or important. During one lazy Sunday brunch, I sat alone at the bar for half an hour before the bartender finally decided to take my brunch order. The restaurant was far from full, and, growing increasingly hungry, I had asked a waiter if I could order from him. "The bartender will be happy to help you" was all I got, and even after hearing this, the bartender went about polishing glasses. It wasn't until I inadvertently made eye contact with someone who works there — someone I know in passing, someone who knows what I do for a living — that the service made a 180.

Suddenly the bartender was fawning over me. Several servers came by to check (though I still had to retrieve my own utensils from the server station). Even the chef came out to inquire about my eggs Benedict duo, which, I had to admit, was very good. As much as I hate being recognized because I feel it could unfairly color my experience, at that point, I was just happy to be fed, and fed well.

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8 comments
Foodie.Texas
Foodie.Texas

@bettyvatel I think you are missing the point of the role of a food critic/writer.  Ms. Steinberg's job is to tell the story of her entire experience at a restaurant, which is exactly what she did.  Any person on Yelp, or any other food writer will do the same.

Other comments (via YELP) regarding your under par customer service:

Tee W.:  The next thing that happened really annoyed me. The table next to us received a tower of onion rings 20-30 minutes after we were told they were out. Uhhh...WTH? Did your staff run to the store to buy onions? When did the onion fairy stop by?

Russell B.:  Back to the rib eye. I ordered mine rare. It came medium. I returned it. They brought another. IT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME AT THE FIRST ONE.

Michael M.:  Service: 3 of us had finished our entree and the waiter not only removed our plates while our friend was finishing his, the waiter even pushed the desert menus on us, as if they were trying to push the table to be cleared for the next guests.

I rest my case.

bettyvatel
bettyvatel

The reviewer writes: Suddenly the bartender was fawning over me. Several servers came by to check (though I still had to retrieve my own utensils from the server station). Even the chef came out to inquire about my eggs Benedict duo, which, I had to admit, was very good. As much as I hate being recognized because I feel it could unfairly color my experience, at that point, I was just happy to be fed, and fed well.


We laugh. As much as she hates being recognised? Bullshit. She loves being recognised. We knew you were at the bar but we did not care. Why? Because no one reads your reviews. Look at the number of comments for this one, and none for the review of BFD. The Houston Press has written itself out of existence.

kerrigan
kerrigan

I like talented chefs like Gitschner, ones who are well-trained, know the basics inside and out, and can generally stray successfully from the rules to create something perfectly cooked and finely flavored. He and Charivari's chef, Johann Schuster, have both paid their dues and it shows in the great food they put out. 


Kudos too to the 60dmc wine program; whoever that somm is, she makes my day with her recs.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@bettyvatel Clearly some people there cared since, as you quote, people started fawning over me...I think you just contradicted yourself.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@kerrigan Vanessa Trevino-Boyd is the sommelier, and yes, her wine list is fab!

 
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