Tuesday, December 24, 2013

13 for 2013: The Pass and Provisions

Houston has had a lot of Landmark Restaurant Concepts that have opened over the past couple of years.  I've had the privilege of attending the hard and soft  openings of several such restaurants, and I've missed out on a few as well.  Many of these restaurants have gotten rave reviews from the local press, the local Fooderati and more than a few have gotten national press and even won some national awards.  A lot of our newer restaurants are run by Chefarateurs--highly skilled professional chefs who are also highly skilled business-people who've designed the concept from the menu, to the ambiance, to the materials used in construction.  Some of these concepts have missed, but many have hit the mark with the dining public extremely well.  One of these on my 13 Restaurants for 2013 which hit the mark quite well is the brainchild of Chefs Terrence Gallivan & Seth Siegel Garder, and Beverage Guru/Master Sommelier Travis Hinkle.  This trio of creative individuals with multiple lifetimes worth of experience in the Food & Beverage industry as well as stints with such places as quavit, August, C-House, Auerole, The Modern, The Fat Duck, Viajante, Kata Robata, Alto and Fiamma. (That last one was a fave of mine in the 1990s!)  This place is called The Pass & Provisions.

Of note, the address at 807 Taft used to be the original location of Antone's PoBoys and Antone's Import Company!  I ate there for lunch more than a few times when I was in Grad School at Rice University, and I bought more than a few interesting food items they also sold there.  While some folks say Houston has no History because we often knock it down to build something else up, this location here was significant since it was built in the 1950s and is a great piece of Houston history.  They even kept and refurbished the Antone's sign on the wall!

Several of my fellow Foodbloggers, many of the local food media have raved about P&P,  They serve whole roasted Foie Gras at lunch and dinner.  They have an expertly crafted collection of wines from all over, as well as local and other regional craft beers and intriguing hand crafted cocktails.  Their menu's feature mixtures of small tasting dishes for those who want to sample a bunch of different things, as well as dishes for two and large dishes for one as well.  The menu reflects influences of Latin America, Italy, France, and many US regional styles.  All of it is familiar and yet unique and different at the same time.  I also need to mention that the Pass and Provisions is Two Restaurants.  The Pass is higher end dining, dinner only, and I have not tried them as yet.  Provisions serves lunch and dinner and is a bit more casual.  Today's review is on Provisions.
I came by at the start of the lunch shift mid-week and was immediately seated by the professional and friendly staff.  I took some time to peruse the menu and sipped on a Santa Fe Imperial Java Stout.  (Very malty, very bold, hints of dark cacao and black coffee, thick, smooth and a favourite!  Grade: A+)  I studied the menu and about three things jumped out to my attention that I liked, but since it was my first time there I asked the server for his choices if he were to be eating there as a patron.  2 of those 3 recommendations were the items I had gravitated towards, so I chose those two--the Ham O'Day as an appetizer and the Mushroom Truffle Pizza for my main course.  Especially given the beer I was drinking, those two choices would be good complements to the beer and as I dined there, my instincts were proven correct.

The Ham O'Day is thinly sliced ham served on a rye infused Aioli with dry ground mustard on top of it.  It's served on a small stone slab, FYI, and is plated quite nicely for such a snack.  The underlying concept is a ham on rye without the bread.  The chefs get different hams on different days of the week which are freshly sliced in house.  This particular ham was very pink, very juicy, almost melted in my mouth like warm butter.  There were many thin strands of intramuscular fat that added flavour, but this was not any fatty ham.  This clearly came from a pig that was raised in a healthy environment with room to roam and was not fed any corn.  The rye aioli has that nutty, odd twang of rye and caraway or fennel seeds you find in rye bread, but with the creamy, mayo-like umami of mayonnaise.  The dried ground mustard had the slight piquant kick of grainy prepared mustard and these two spices were a nice contrast to the sweet and slightly smokey nature of the ham.  (Apologies to Mr. Moustache, but this was mighty fine ham!!!)

The main course was the Mushroom-Truffle Pizza that featured black trumpet mushrooms and spicy pork sausage served with melted mozzarella and other white cheeses on a hand tossed crust with a hint of truffle oil in the mix.  While I'm all about the burger a lot of the time, I love good pizza just as much.  I'm compiling a list of great local pizza in Houston, and this pizza will be near the top of that list.  The sausage was sweet, savoury and spicy all at once.  With visible fennel seed throughout the chunks of sausage.  The mushrooms were dark, meaty, squeaked when you bit into them like fresh cheese curds and had a boldness mixed with a little pungency.  The cheese was hot and delightfully stringy.  The crust was crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside like Italian bread.  Lightning had struck twice for me in a week, as I'd has a similar great pizza at City Oven the week before.  I had to push away to prevent myself from eating the whole pie, and FYI:  this pizza passed  the cold next day test as well as the reheat test.

I would be remiss if I didn't also take the time to let y'all know about the friendly and efficient staff.  Although I didn't have a reservation (they are recommended) they were able to seat me just fine.  The servers backed each other up quite well on beverage refills and callbacks to check on the diners. The tables were prebussed and turned over efficiently, and even as the dining room filled up after an hour, I never saw anyone wait longer to be seated than 10 minutes.  The kitchen is nice and open, where I could see everything going on from a distance.  The whole restaurant was very clean and between the great staff and the food, this was one of the most pleasant lunches I've had in Houston, and I will definitely be back for Dinner at the Pass in the near future!!! I can also say that I was tweeting/instagraming pictures of the food, and those feeds blew up with positive commentary on what they saw--several replies said the appearance of this food MADE THEM SUPER HUNGRY, and I told them exactly where they could come and get it.

Report Card for The Pass and Provisions (Provisions Only):
Food & Beverage;
     Santa Fe Imperial Java Stout: A+
     Ham O'Day: A+
     Truffle-Mushroom Pizza: A++
     Friendliness: A
     Speed: A+
     Dining Area: A+
     Kitchen: A
     Men's Room: Incomplete
Atmosphere (Converted Warehouse with Modern Elements): A

Overall Grade: A+

For those of y'all keeping count: this is #8 on my 13 Restaurants to try in 2013.

The Pass and Provisions is located at:
807 Taft St. (between Allen Pkwy & W Gray)
Houston, Texas 77019

Hours of Operation:

Saturday Brunch
11am to 2:30pm

Monday – Saturday
11am to 2:30pm

Monday – Saturday
5pm to 11pm


Eat Happy Y'all!!!

The Pass and Provisions on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

scott buehler said...

You've got to hit The Pass. It is excellent! If you are up to it, the eight courses is really good, and you leave very full. Provisions is also very good. I had a suckling pig sandwich on my first visit. Sad to see it's not on the menu any more. It melted in your mouth. Both restaurants are great additions to the Houston food scene.