The only reason to go to *17 at the Alden Hotel (aside from the snazzy decor which, truthfully, you can approximate for free by hanging out inside of West Elm) has left the building. It was discovered on Monday that Wesley Morton, the young chef from Washington, D.C. who dazzled our city with his creative, minimalist cuisine and use of fresh, local ingredients, is no longer with the restaurant, although there has been no official announcement of his departure.
Morton only helmed the restaurant for ten short months, beginning in February of this year. Before that, *17 ran through a duo of equally-talented chefs -- Jeff Armstrong and Ryan Pera -- in only a few short years. Indeed, when Morton was appointed to the position, local foodies speculated that it would only be a matter of time before he, too, moved on to greater things. There's no word yet on what those greater things might be, though.
Cleverley Stone tells us that Sander Edmondson, a Texas native who most recently owned and operated a restaurant in San Antonio called Bistro Thyme, took over the kitchen at *17 this week. Edmondson also has plenty of experience in the luxury hotel industry, having previously been the executive chef at the upscale Fairmont and Gunter hotels in San Antonio, so he should at least have those bases covered at *17. What remains to be seen is how good his cooking is.
Cleverley was able to get ahold of a menu from Edmondson's old restaurant, Bistro Thyme, which you can see here. The items sound strikingly similar to past menu items at *17 and, indeed, to so many other upmarket restaurants around town. But -- disappointingly -- they show little in the way of creativity.
For now, however, Edmondson will be sticking to Morton's current menu until he finds his legs. And although it will be interesting to see what kind of menu Edmondson eventually develops, it will be far more interesting to see will be how long *17 is able to keep him around.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.