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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.

At 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, the portions are indeed ranch-size, whether you're there for a leisurely brunch or a boozy dinner. The menu options, though interesting in their diversity, aren't cutting-edge in the way a meal at The Pass might be thanks to unusual cooking techniques or ingredients you'd normally find only in the pages of Modernist Cuisine. Still, it's clear from items like the $200 foie gras- and gold-leaf-topped hamburger that Certified Master Chef Gitschner likes to play with his food.

At brunch, the eggs Benedict duo is the best example of this touch of whimsy. A good eggs Benedict really needs only four things: Some sort of bread, some sort of protein, hollandaise sauce and a perfectly poached egg. Gitschner executes this at brunch in two very different ways. First, a whole lump crab cake perfectly seared on the outside is topped with a poached egg and chive-laced hollandaise sauce — ­simple and straight­forward were it not for the crab cake combining the bread and protein into one delicious patty. Next to that, a Cajun-inspired Benedict featuring a buttery biscuit topped with tasso ham and a poached egg and drizzled with a spicy "Creole hollandaise," just hot enough to make you reach for your bottomless mimosa.

At dinner, the creativity emerges in a number of ways, from that unusual chopped-steak burger to a trio of salmon — miso, smoked and pastrami-style — served as an appetizer but large enough to be dinner for one. The desire to innovate sometimes goes overboard, though, seemingly taking precedence over something as simple as seasoning.

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

A bowl of Tejas chili with the signature Akaushi beef features divinely tender meat in a rather bland chili base. The lack of spice — both heat and herbal — could be forgiven were it not for the dollops of "Mexican crema" topping the chili. At first bite, I was sure a mistake had been made and sweet whipped cream from a dessert had been piped atop the chili. A check of the menu showed amaretto listed as an ingredient, and I realized the sweetness was intentional, but it definitely was not welcome.

A trio of pork (yes, the chef loves his duos and trios) succeeds with spareribs marinated in Gosling's Black Seal Rum to the point that they fall off the bone with a gentle tug of the fork, no caveman-style gnawing necessary. The pork belly is less intriguing, purportedly braised in Asian spices (whatever those may be) but tasting mostly sweet and a little chewy. House-made pork sausage is the least appetizing. It's dry, crumbly and virtually flavorless, save for a hint of pork. An obvious tasting note, but I was glad to find at least that descriptor was accurate.

Seafood tends to fare better than beef, pork or chicken at the ranch-centric restaurant. Crab cakes are bursting with large lumps of crustacean, cured salmon would do a Jewish deli proud, and that red snapper with eggplant risotto and basil pesto shocked me into taking the sometimes kitschy restaurant seriously. It's a shame it's not on the regular menu.
_____________________

Gitschner possesses a title shared by 65 other people in the United States, a title that some would claim is arbitrary but that others wear with pride. Regardless of how you feel about the Certified Master Chef designation — obtained through an eight-day test of culinary knowledge and skills and a $3,800 application fee — the know-how needed to obtain it is real, and Gitschner has proven he's got the chops, so to speak.

He's spent years practicing culinary consulting in the hospitality industry and helping educate up-and-coming chefs. He has won numerous awards, and he owns a successful caramelized-pecan manufacturing business with his wife. He'll cook you a nine- to 12-course chef's tasting menu featuring everything from molecular gastronomy to cowboy food for $280 per person at 60 Degrees Mastercrafted. That sounds like a whole other angle to the restaurant, but enough quibbling with the name.

Gitschner comes from the Houston Country Club, and try as he might to escape the upscale atmosphere in favor of a more casual, ranch-themed, meat-centric gathering place, it's a tough sell. There's still an air of not belonging unless you're someone, even though my subsequent trips were met with fine service, and I don't believe I was recognized. There are still microgreens and lobster and foie gras. There's still the illusion of innovation, until you remember that eggs Benedict was invented long enough ago that every iteration has been done and every meat duo and trio has been witnessed before, too.

Call yourself "ranch-to-table," 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, because in theory you are. Demonstrate a rustic sensibility with chili, fork-smashed potatoes and all the meat a carnivore can eat. Show off the chef's unique blend of fine dining and down-home eats. And then show me where on a ranch I can find gold leaf and such delightful seafood.

kaitlin.steinberg@houstonpress.com

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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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