Foreign Correspondents in Houston Nominated for National Best New Restaurants List

Northern Thai restaurant Foreign Correspondents is one of 50 nominees for Bon Appetit's best new restaurants list.
Northern Thai restaurant Foreign Correspondents is one of 50 nominees for Bon Appetit's best new restaurants list.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

National publication Bon Appétit has announced that Foreign Correspondents is one of 50 nominees for its "Hot 10: America’s Best New Restaurants 2016" list. It's one of four Texas restaurants selected, along with Trompo in Dallas, Hotel Emma in San Antonio and Emmer & Rye in Austin. The restaurants were picked by Bon Appétit’s deputy editor, Andrew Knowlton, and senior editor, Julia Kramer, who between them ate at more than 400 restaurants while searching for the most noteworthy. The entire list of nominees is available online.

Foreign Correspondents, one of three Treadsack Group restaurants that opened at the end of 2015 (along with Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s), specializes in unique Thailand-meets-Texas fare. It’s helmed by chef and former fishmonger P.J. Stoops, who met his wife, Apple, while he was living in Thailand. Foreign Correspondents serves Northern Thai dishes but often combines signature spices and ingredients of the cuisine with locally grown produce and meats. For example, Sameth and Lee Nget of nearby Khmer Farms grow and supply some of the hard-to-find herbs traditionally used in Thai cuisine, such as water celery, rice patty herb and sweetleaf.

In a brief online review, Bon Appétit says, “That means that their stir-fries taste brighter, their curries fresher, and their laaps more herbaceously nuanced than anything you’re going to find anywhere else on this landmass.

Chef P.J. Stoops was a former fishmonger in Houston and still honors that emphasis on local ingredients. The recipes might be Thai, but the fish is from the Gulf of Mexico.
Chef P.J. Stoops was a former fishmonger in Houston and still honors that emphasis on local ingredients. The recipes might be Thai, but the fish is from the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

That perception of bright, nuanced cuisine very much falls in line with reviews from both the Houston Press and the Houston Chronicle. In March, freelance restaurant critic Nicholas L. Hall wrote of a stir-fried pumpkin dish, “That stir-fry comes to the table an intensely aromatic tumble of gently translucent cubes of squash, swaddled in velvety slivers of pork and slips of eggs scrambled so gently the word seems entirely too harsh. Little crispy bits accentuate all those suave textures, and the licorice hit of Thai basil snakes through every forkful.”

In April, Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook wrote of the Makrut Lime Curry: “At a recent dinner the fish was cooked with utmost respect, so that it stayed slippery as satin; and its surrounding lake shimmered with distinctively perfumed kaffir lime (more respectably known as makrut) and a bloom of hot chile chasing its mild coconut. Threaded through this subtle, complex broth were snappy stems and leaves of water spinach from Sameth Nget's greenhouses, for an effect of utter freshness.”

The winners will be revealed live on bonappetit.com on August 16 as well as in the magazine’s upcoming September issue.

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