Off the beaten path near the turn on Dacoma and Highway 290, where the roads seem to be stuck in construction purgatory, is a pretty typical shopping center complete with a massage school, a print shop and a couple of restaurants. Back toward the end of January, Pinch Seafood & Bar opened to loads of curious customers and a parking lot that didn’t have just quite enough spots.
Helmed by Biloxi, Mississippi-native chef Clint Page, Pinch delivers some bold flavors and fancy food behind those doors. Page honed his craft as a member of many well-known establishments and families in the industry, including the Brennans, Landry’s, Inc. and the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
The restaurant features a creative menu of Southern-inspired seafood dishes, each with its own chef-driven twist. Appetizers include an Oyster Reef featuring bivalves on the half shell, charbroiled with Cajun butter or served Rockefeller-style along with a list of items that read like food porn.
Diners are greeted by a complimentary basket of homemade chicharrón at the table. They're fried well and lightly salted with a nice crunch.
Three giant screens flank the back-lit bar. At the moment, only beer and wine are available, but if all goes well, in a few weeks, a liquor permit will be in place and signature crafted cocktails are on deck. In the meantime, we've heard rumors of a "bro-mosa," a ginormous version of the mimosa that will be part of an upcoming brunch menu.
Available during season only, the crawfish is a big hit at Pinch. The three styles are Cajun, house citrus garlic and the newest and most flavorful: pineapple habanero. The bugs are sold for $8 per pound and only $6 per pound during happy hour, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The happy hour specials are pretty sweet. All of the beers are $3, even local craft brews like the 8th Wonder Nitro Rocket Fuel and Spindletap's Boomtown Blonde.
We tried the bacon-wrapped shrimp, which sits atop a fluffy grilled biscuit brushed in a tangy barbecue sauce. The shrimp and the biscuit (although utterly delicious) are merely costars to the delightfully sweet charred and roasted figs.
The deviled egg paired with fried oysters is not a new combination in Houston restaurants, but Page's jalapeño rémoulade and sriracha aioli balance the flavors perfectly. (Deviled Eggs & Fried Oysters, $9)
Intrigued by its description, we had to order the Pinch sliders. The three angus beef patties were tucked inside a Chinese pork bao (a traditional steamed bun filled with pork and egg), sliced in half and deep-fried. We were honestly wowed by the inventiveness of the use of bao as the bun. A whole-grain Creole mustard and reduced balsamic vinaigrette drizzled over the bao sliders rounded out the dish. (Pinch Sliders, $13)
A flaming slice of cake approached the table across the way, cheesecake-crème brûlée set ablaze for an impressively sweet presentation. The cheesecake tasted more like a custard, but having the toasty crust, the cake, the home-made cream and the caramel all in the same bite was something special.
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Parking is not the best situation, but a server mentioned that upcoming changes in the shopping center will create up to 30 additional spaces. With a chef-driven menu and a kind, friendly staff, Pinch is off to a great start.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lunch Specials starting at $12 are available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pinch Seafood & Bar, pinchseafoodrestaurant.com, 832-487-9412
10510 Northwest Freeway
The Press regrets mistakenly identifying The Houston School of Massage as a massage parlor, which it is not.