And No You Can’t Send Food Up a Dumb Waiter, Even in the Finest Restaurants
Last night was a celebration at Voice, the restaurant in the Hotel Icon known for its basement wine cellar and kitchen and its sterling food at the bar. Famed restaurant critic John Mariani of Esquire magazine has named it one of the top 20 best new restaurants in the United States and the drinks and munchies were flowing freely.
At unaccustomed center stage at 220 Main was Chef Michael Kramer, shaking hands and accepting congratulations by the bar. As Mariani wrote about Kramer, in part: “he just does American creative flawlessly; potato gnocchi laden with morels, asparagus, and prosciutto, each ingredient retaining its own powerful flavor…”
During a quick tour of the kitchen downstairs, everything was total calm, which of course goes against everything we’ve all seen on those reality TV chef shows... Asked why, the Voice General Manager Ludovic Poirier laughed and said “That’s because the chef isn’t here.”
The restaurant is doing well even in the economic downturn. According to Kramer, the tastings have become almost too popular thanks to word of mouth. There have been occasional nights when they’ve had to cut them off because the task of managing so many varieties of food quickly can overwhelm – especially when it gets up into the 80-diner range.
Toughest lesson Kramer and his crew learned through the school of hard knocks? Don’t send food up a dumb waiter. As much as they’d like it otherwise, the food just doesn’t stay in the same place on the plate. By the time it came out, there was no way to bring the plates to the table – not to any patrons expecting glitzy presentation.
Instead, what’s probably the most in-shape wait staff in America runs up and down the stairs, balancing plates of food, and with a twirl, delivering them to their diners.
They still use the dumb waiter to send the dirty plates to the kitchen. – Margaret Downing
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.