After competing on season 4 of MasterChef, James Nelson has been as busy as a bee. If expanding Bravado Spice Company and planning (and implementing) several pop-up dinners isn't enough for him, Nelson is also the culinary consultant for a brand-new restaurant and bar in the Willowbrook area, set to open at the beginning of November.
Owner James Cole and general manager Stephanie Applewhite reached out to Nelson a couple of months ago and asked him to help create Revolver Houston: A Sub-BOURBON Social's menu and assist with social media and the hiring of employees.
"I crafted up a rough draft of the menu," Nelson says. "I helped them pretty much design everything from how the service is going to look to what food we will be serving."
Although Nelson has never opened a restaurant before, he says that his knowledge of food allowed him to assist Cole and Applewhite with Revolver Houston's culinary side. Nelson says the two wanted to create an "elevated bar" in Willowbrook -- something the area lacks.
"What they really wanted was something that was attainable in that area," Nelson says. "They didn't want to go gastropub, but be above the standard fare."
Revolver's menu includes items such as a fried green tomato and grilled cheese sandwich, caprese and pulled pork flatbreads, and what Nelson describes as "badass burgers," including one topped with pulled pork, a fried egg and house-made barbecue sauce.
"We have a killer pulled pork recipe -- slightly Asian-inspired," Nelson says. "[The menu] barely touches on Asian and Mexican."
Nelson has also included Bravado Spice products on the menu. The wings will be prepared with Bravado's hot sauce, and the company is also creating a barbecue sauce for some of the menu items.
In order to set themselves apart from other pubs and bars in the area, everything will be made in-house, including the kettle chips, which Nelson says will be standard with every dish.
But that's not all this restaurant will be doling out. Nelson made sure to include some dessert recipes to match the comforting, filling menu.
"The desserts are kick-ass," he says. "We have personal fried pies -- a play on those cheap-o Mrs. Baird's pies in grocery stores. The staple house one is, of course, a bourbon caramel apple pie. My personal favorite is the cookies and cream one; super-fattening and badass."
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Nelson says the menu will change seasonally, but it will always have certain staple items, such as the Revolver Burger and the pulled pork sandwich.
"Every Sunday we are going to run specials," Nelson says. "Start rocking with a cool pumpkin fried pie or a sweet potato pie."
Although Nelson is not the head chef at the restaurant, he will be cooking during the grand opening (official date to be determined soon), and he says he might guest-chef every now and then.
In the meantime, you can catch Nelson at the next Bravado Spice pop-up dinner on November 20 at Royal Oak Bar & Grill. The menu will include Spanish and Asian tapas, and Cat from Musubi Houston will be joining Nelson and the Bravado Spice team in the kitchen.