The G Spot
This New Age-flavored blather cracks me up," wrote former Press staffer Lisa Gray in an e-mail.
She attached a recent news release about a new restaurant called Chef g's Seafood & Steakhouse (1915 Westheimer, 713-522-5551). "Gower Idrees, a.k.a. Chef g, awoke one morning at 3 a.m. with the answer to a life-long question: As a chef, what could he do to enhance the dining experience? Flavor. Lots and lots of different saucy flavors!" the release gushes. "It's not just the sauces he has created that have his guests salivating; it is the 'Journey' itself. 'We have "meat journeys" that include a barrel cut filet mignon, a New York strip, ribeye, blackened pork loin topped with super jumbo lump crabmeat and on the side, Old Age Balsamic, Sky, Lemon Zippity and Tabasco Bacon Molasses sauces,' says Idrees."
"Aren't journeys things that test a hero's mettle?" wondered Gray. "Ulysses had the Odyssey. Lewis and Clark had the Mississippi. The Enterprise had a five-year mission." And Houston diners have Chef g's meat.
The press release worked, however. I can't resist calling up Gower Idrees to see exactly how seriously he expects us to take this stuff.
"Did you really wake up at three in the morning with a revelation about meat journeys?" I ask.
"It's a realistic fact," he says. "I'm not sure it was three exactly, but don't you wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of your passion? That's when I do my best work."
"So was it the sauce or the meat that woke you up?" I wonder.
"It was both," he says. "The journey is about passion! 'We are here every day to rock your world' -- that's our mission statement. Ask any one of my employees, they'll tell you. We call it the 'g force.' "
Idrees worked as a waiter at La Strada and Brennan's, managed the Post Oak Grill, sold insurance and started a consulting company. But running his own restaurant was always his dream.
"I was in a Michael Gerber program called 'E-Myths,' " Idrees says. "The first thing you do is write your eulogy. That really makes you decide what you want to do with your life."
"And are you comfortable with your eulogy being about meat journeys?" I ask.
"I have no problem with that," Idrees replies. "I am in my dream. If I drop dead today, I am very happy."
"Where did the Chef g name come from? Do you have any training as a chef?"
"I went to LeNôtre [the Alain & Marie LeNôtre Culinary Institute] at night, but I didn't graduate," Idrees says. Actually, chef Michel Assadian, who received his training at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, came over from Rotisserie for Beef and Bird to do the cooking at Chef g's, but Idrees says he designed "90 percent" of the menu.
"I don't have the money that Pappas Bros. or some of these other places have, but I wanted to do something unique," he says. His meat journeys, which serve two or more, consist of a platter including several cuts of steak and pork with lots of dipping sauces on the side. The meats include Certified Black Angus steaks along with pork from Pipestone Family Farms, a brand-name program.
Idrees is also proud of his wine selection, which includes a tableside cart stocked with wines available in Houston only at Chef g's. "I want to bring the little guys' wines to Houston," Idrees says. "These are small vineyards from all over the world that no one else knows, vineyards that are pursuing their passion."
"Why a steak house?" I ask, noting that Idrees has entered a crowded field.
"It's not a steak house," he says, noting the word "seafood" in the name. "It's an aesthetic crossover between the male and female. No cigars, no animal heads on the walls. There are 18 seafood dishes on the menu. It's the perfect place for couples -- cozy enough to propose. I don't sell food; I sell passion. I know it sounds hokey, but I really believe it."
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