And No You Can’t Send Food Up a Dumb Waiter, Even in the Finest Restaurants

Chef Michael Kramer; Sandy Collet, director of sales and marketing for Hotel ICON; and Ludovic Poirer, general manager
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Last night was a celebration at Voice, the restaurant in the Hotel Icon known for its basement wine cellar and kitchen and its sterling food at the bar. Famed restaurant critic John Mariani of


magazine has named it one of the top 20 best new restaurants in the United States and the drinks and munchies were flowing freely.

At unaccustomed center stage at 220 Main was Chef Michael Kramer, shaking hands and accepting congratulations by the bar. As Mariani wrote about Kramer, in part: “he just does American creative flawlessly; potato gnocchi laden with morels, asparagus, and prosciutto, each ingredient retaining its own powerful flavor…”

During a quick tour of the kitchen downstairs, everything was total calm, which of course goes against everything we’ve all seen on those reality TV chef shows... Asked why, the Voice General Manager Ludovic Poirier laughed and said “That’s because the chef isn’t here.”

The restaurant is doing well even in the economic downturn. According to Kramer, the tastings have become almost too popular thanks to word of mouth. There have been occasional nights when they’ve had to cut them off because the task of managing so many varieties of food quickly can overwhelm – especially when it gets up into the 80-diner range.

Toughest lesson Kramer and his crew learned through the school of hard knocks? Don’t send food up a dumb waiter. As much as they’d like it otherwise, the food just doesn’t stay in the same place on the plate. By the time it came out, there was no way to bring the plates to the table – not to any patrons expecting glitzy presentation.

Instead, what’s probably the most in-shape wait staff in America runs up and down the stairs, balancing plates of food, and with a twirl, delivering them to their diners.

They still use the dumb waiter to send the dirty plates to the kitchen. – Margaret Downing

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.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.