Phaedra Cook is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes of 2015. It's a collection of personal favorites that is also indicative of Houston dining. It's a scene where a vast range of dishes coexist: highbrow and lowbrow; local and international; cheap and expensive; modern cuisine and beloved tenets — and everything in between.
The Perry’s Steakhouse & Grill pork chop deal at lunchtime on Fridays is one of the best in town. It’s $13.95 (normally $19.95 at lunch) for a three-bone chop. (The dinner one is four bones for $37.95.)
Updated, 6/19/15, 9:48 a.m.: A representative for Perry's got back to us with some additional information. The lunch chop ranges from 18 to 22 ounces while the dinner chop is from 30 to 34 ounces. Also, as I suspected, both Perry's Steakhouse and Perry & Sons are, in fact, serving exactly the same kind of chops. So, your preference on where to go really should come down to proximity and what kind of environment you prefer.
Robb Walsh also cited the chop on his 100 Favorite Dishes list, but specified the original Perry & Sons Market & Grille location on Scarsdale. Was there really that much of a difference? I wondered about it, so I ordered a lunchtime chop from a “chain” Perry’s and then made the hour-long trek from my house to the original Perry & Sons on the south side.
The first chop was at a relatively close chain location: the Perry’s Steakhouse & Grill in the same parking lot as Memorial City Mall. I went on a lunch hour with a friend, and while we admittedly both knew he could get away with a relatively long lunch, he also had to account for travel time from Katy and back. So, we needed prompt service.
That’s not what we received. Our first server brought us water and then disappeared. There we sat for 15 minutes with nothing else happening. No one showed up to take our order. During our leisurely wait, we noticed that our cobalt water glasses were dirty, with a caked-on film on the rims. We additionally noted that the big red wine glasses that sat empty on the table were covered in white lint.
Server Number Two eventually showed up and we pointed out that our glasses were dirty. They were removed. The water glasses returned mostly clean (my companion’s was still dirty on one side) and covered in water droplets on the outside.
I placed an order for a glass of Malbec. My friend and I both placed our entrée and side dish orders. My wine was served in a replacement glass. I took a sip and decided it was pretty good wine until the light hit the surface. That was when I noted that my wine came with an “extra”: a surface full of lint.
35 minutes into the visit, we had received nothing else so I summoned the manager. Of course, he was apologetic for the issues and replaced my linty glass of wine with not-linty glass of wine. We emphasized our need for speed and about five minutes later, our food showed up.
The pork chop was carved tableside, as is Perry’s tradition. As usual, what Perry’s calls the “eyelash,” or center rib loin portion, was the most moist and tender and the exterior was both the meatiest and leanest. (That’s what the applesauce is for—adding moisture and flavor to the lean part.) The carefully separated ribs fell somewhere in the middle. Was it good, a bargain and worth the frustration? Actually, yes. I dare you to find a better one cheaper.
A week later, it was time to head south to Perry & Sons, a modest restaurant in a strip center. No frou-frou décor was needed, because the big meat case in the back was all the eye candy required. We walked the length of the case, eyeballing and talking about the vermillion hunks of beef, the jalapeño-tinged sausages and the slabs of pork that practically blushed.
We sat down and ordered. The prompt service left nothing to be desired. There were no oddball server switcharoos. The glassware was clean. The pork chop was pretty much the same as at the corporate Perry’s, except it was plated more attractively and seemed bigger. It had a little more of the sweet-spicy seasoning blend that they use, too. Was there a substantial difference in flavor? Not really.
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The difference is less about the chop than it is about the environment and service. The surroundings at the original Perry & Sons may be more modest, but it’s worth a trip to get an eyeful of that meat case where you can even buy more of those pork chops to take home and cook yourself.
It’s up to you. If you’re near one of the corporate Perry’s, it’s worth the short trip (and some minor issues) to land one of those big, bargain-priced chops. Otherwise, make the trek to Perry & Sons.
The List of Top 100 Dishes of 2015 So Far:
No. 90, General Tso's Chicken from The Rice Box
No. 91, Eggs, Refried Beans, Hash Browns and Hugo's Sauce at 59 Diner
No. 92, Shipley Do-Nuts Plain Glazed
No. 93, Housemade Bologney at Public Services Wine & Whisky
No. 94, Bo Luc Lac at Cheno's (formerly Chino's) Fast Food
No. 95, Combo #5 at Soto's Cantina
No. 96, Carnitas Salad At Chipotle
No. 97, Pickled Shrimp At Punk's Simple Southern Food
No. 98, Lobster Roll At Maine-Ly Sandwiches
No. 99, Chili-Cheese Coneys At JCI Grill
No. 100, Corned Beef Hash And Eggs At House Of Pies