Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Houston on a Plate–Underbelly Restaurant–A Best Kept Houston Secret
Underbelly is one of those restaurants that if you didn’t know about it and were visiting Houston it might pass you by entirely as it’s one of Houston’s best kept secrets and not a tourist destination in any way. Described by Zagat as ‘the most anticipated new restaurant’, this is not a grand five course restaurant, nor a quick food emporium, but a huge modern barn of a restaurant created by chef Chris Shepherd and offering the embodiment of Houston flavours and culture in a totally idiosyncratic way.
I visited other restaurants in Houston and more about those, however, as a Londoner and established Brit this was a visit full of such personality and joie de vivre that it had to top my list.
The restaurant has been designed around modern Southern architecture and includes a wall of pictures of people and places that have inspired Chris Shepherd, a barn lit ceiling over the huge dining space, beautifully arranged books and jars of pickles lining the walls and above all the loud din of happy diners. Underbelly is always full and by the way if you’re in Houston and want to go there you need to book at least a month in advance.
Calling Houston ‘The new American Creole city of the South’, Underbelly offers an unusual and always changing menu to suit the produce of the seasons where you order ‘dishes’ rather than courses, although you can have them in the order you want. I chose chicken with Strawberry BBQ sauce, slaw and cornbread which was exceptional and tasted by all as being the best choice, but you can also have such delicacies as ‘Crispy Bay Anchovies with Aioli’, ‘Roasted Beets, Garlic Lemon Puree and Goats Cheese’ and Wagyu Pot Roast. See the full dinner menu for yourself here.
This is not a menu you’re likely to come across anywhere else, and with the open kitchen and noisy, happy eaters, some in shorts and all casually dressed not a restaurant that would translate easily to a city such as Paris or London which but in Houston, Texas was just about perfect. Beam me back there please soon……… and in the meantime read Zagat’s post about Underbelly