Tableside Prime Rib Service and More at Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette

I am always looking at pictures of food. One of my favorite pastimes, it's the reason why my Twitter and Instagram feeds (and now, my Facebook feed) are constantly crammed with photos of food, and why I spend countless hours mentally drooling over pictures of what people are cooking or eating.

On a recent evening, I was doing exactly this when I saw a picture of chef Travis Lenig carving prime rib tableside at the fairly new (it opened this past October) Liberty Kitchen and Oysterette (LKO). Though I'd been planning to visit for some time, at that point I hadn't yet been to the new LKO location.

That picture was all that was needed to seal the deal: I had to have it.

I called my girlfriend Amber at the last minute and made a reservation for that very evening -- a Friday night -- eager to embark on a prime rib eating spree. Call me naive, but I wasn't exactly prepared for the sight that greeted me. I arrived to a packed house, with stylish guests overflowing into the small landing space between the hostess stand and the front door. Not a seat was empty.

Amber and I, seated to the right side of the bar at one of the standalone tables, were smack dab in the middle of all of it. Now, I have to be in a certain type of mood to enjoy an atmosphere that's so lively. I'm kind of more into the intimate, one-on-one kind of low-key places where you can have meaningful conversation. But it was a Friday night, we were there for some girl-talk and great food, and the fact that we had started the evening off with Veuve Clicquot and a dozen shucked oysters from the Northeast made for a very promising evening.

As it was my first time at LKO, we wanted to get a good feel for the menu, which was vast. The deviled eggs topped with fried oysters were a must have. One of the signature menu items, they epitomized southern comfort -- simple, down-home food amped up a notch with a fried oyster on top. Equally delicious was the daily special of U-10 scallop served sashimi-style with a Thai-style spicy sauce, which came from the raw bar.

Did you know that LKO offers caviar service? An almost inconspicuous line item on the menu, California Royal Osetra caviar is available, served with warm blinis, shallots, crème fraîche and eggs. It was definitely a decadent indulgence, but decidedly amazing.

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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