Chef Chat

Chef Chat, Part 2: Jeramie Robison of Restaurant Cinq at La Colombe d'Or

Yesterday we talked to Chef Jeramie Robison about how he got his start in the restaurant industry at such a young age.

Today we talk to him about how he's been shaking things up since he took over at La Colombe d'Or.

EOW: You've told me before that Restaurant Cinq is doing more covers now than its done in a long time. What have you done to put it back on the map, so to speak? 

JR: When I started at the end of July/August, it was the start of restaurant week, so I just came in and started cooking. It took a few months to get things organized. We also opened Zimm's Little Deck down the street within a month or so. They gave me the concept, I organized and trained the crew, developed the menu, all the recipes...

EOW: I remember you getting a lot press and attention fairly quickly, how did that come about?

JR: I think it coincided with the roll-out of our 30-year anniversary menu. Then came in December/January, and that's when everything kicked off. Gayot put me in their Top 5 Rising Chefs, along with two others in NYC and two in California.

EOW: How would you describe the food you're doing here?

JR: Steve gives me full reign to do whatever I want within the restaurant, but it's always going to be a European hotel. If I had to describe it, I would probably say I do modern European cuisine with a southern flair.

EOW: What dish most closely represents your style of cooking?

JR: Scallops and fried green tomatoes. It shows my upbringing and being around seafood. But that's the thing. I'm still playing around with ingredients.

EOW: You've changed the menu quite a bit, haven't you?

JR: We're going to introduce a new menu the second or third week of September. Last year, I kept their old classics on one side and my new ideas on the other. With the new menu, we're just keeping a couple of classics -- the escargot and rack of lamb -- those will always stay on the menu. But the majority of last year's menu will soon be gone. My new ideas from last year will become classics, and a whole new menu is being developed.

EOW: Tell me about something that surprises diners when they come here.

JR: They're always surprised to see how gorgeous the place is.

EOW: And you're getting a lot of repeat business, yes?

JR: We get a lot of two-tops coming back on the weekend. They'll come in for a business lunch and get the short ribs or the grouper, then they'll come back with a date or a friend.

EOW: Have you had any time to try other restaurants in the city?

JR: Not really. I went to Americas River Oaks last Sunday. I met David Cordua. I still want to try Rainbow Lodge, Reef, Pondicheri, Samba Grille...

EOW: Do you have a favorite cheap eats?

JR: Yes! I do. Al's Quick Stop. The best gyro on Waugh. I usually get the gyro plate with hummus.

EOW: How about for drinks?

JR: It's usually Grand Prize Bar or Bar Boheme.

EOW: And what is your preferred drink?

JR: It varies. I like Budweiser. I'll have a blueberry mojito poolside --homemade. But when I go out I drink beer.

EOW: Whats your favorite thing about Houston?

JR: The people here. Everyone's really nice. This area [Montrose].

EOW: How different is it from your hometown?

JR: We have a Target here. There's only 6,000 people in my hometown.

EOW: Do you cook at home?

JR: My girlfriend's been cooking for me, but yeah, sometimes she'll buy stuff and I'll do some braised ribs...

EOW: What's your favorite food?

JR: Comfort food.

EOW: What would your last meal, be, then?

JR: Salisbury steak, onions bell peppers, gravy, with smothered squash, braised cabbage, cornbread. I would want my mom to make it.

EOW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

JR:That's a good question...Five years...[rubs his chin, smiling] Hopefully, I'd own a successful restaurant. But I see myself cooking. I'll always be cooking.

Check back with us tomorrow when we taste some of Robison's cooking.

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham