Benjy's On Washington

Benjy Levit has opened a second location of his famed Benjy's, called Benjy's On Washington (5922 Wash­ington, 713-868-1131). "After 13 years, we finally figured out what we're doing, and now we're ready to reproduce," he told Dish. "We had some great people who were ready to take on a new challenge."

Washington Avenue seemed like a natural place to put the new location. "Washington Avenue has a high density of young people with no kids that go out to eat nightly. It's close to Memorial, River Oaks and downtown, plus we felt that it would not take away from our Village location."

The restaurant is a lot bigger than the one in the Village. "We wanted a natural and organic vibe with lots of wood and cork floors," says Levit. "We also wanted it to feel casual, yet also a place to come for special occasions or just for a cocktail. Our chef is Mike Potowski, who was the chef de cuisine at Noé. We've kept about 60 percent of the menu the same as in the Village, but let him branch out to do his own thing."

A recent evening visit found the throngs had already discovered the new Benjy's, and the wait was too long, so Dish returned the next day for lunch. The main room has an earthy feel about it, with many cypress knees that appear to be growing out of the ground like stalactites. The pistachio-crusted goat cheese cake was a fabulous appetizer, and the thin-crust white pizza with crab, red pepper and spinach from the wood-burning oven was superb. Can't wait to try out the rest of the very creative menu...

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Paul Galvani