A friendly owner and an array of housemade desserts add a down-home element to the dishes served at Atomic Omelette and Grill, where diner- and southern-style classics comprise an ample menu. For breakfast, signature omelets get a kick from pecan-smoked bacon and serrano peppers, and pancakes come in one of seven flavors such as bananas foster or white chocolate and macadamia nut. Later in the day, sliced rib-eye steak is stacked inside authentic philly cheesesteaks, and chicken-fried chicken is accompanied by garlic bread and gravy.
Beneath a basil-green awning, Cellar Door Market fills with the universal clatter of a happy kitchen as chef Paul LaLone brings 26 years in the culinary industry to bear on heaps of regional ingredients. Guest chefs lead hands-on classes in specific cuisines and techniques, which may introduce pupils to the art of baking bread, preparing healthy food, rolling sushi, and remembering that sushi is the one food that should not be roasted on a campfire. Each session is rated according to the knife skills required to complete the meal, and pupils bustle past the kitchen, laden with completed dishes for their friends and families.
Beyond the kitchen doors at Cellar Door Market, chefs create meals from scratch, quick-cooling them to preserve integrity. Whenever possible, meals are made with local products including meats and produce from nearby sustainable farms. The rotating menu has included dishes such as red beans and rice with Zenner’s sausage, smoked pork loin with a peach and bourbon sauce, and zucchini manicotti, and each item comes with instructions for easily reheating it or taking it to a dragon’s surprise party.
Bistro 829's chefs create modern variations of familiar, homestyle staples by incorporating an assortment of regional and international flavors. Corn grits lend a distinctive Southern twist to the sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna entree, and the signature chicken-fried prime rib comes coated with cream gravy with a uniquely Southwestern-style blend of bacon and poblano peppers. Bartenders spend their evenings mixing specialty cocktails and uncorking bottles of wine to complement entrees and make sure they're prepared in case their crush wants to play spin the bottle.
Beyond the eclectically inspired menu, the dining room embraces a more casual elegance with its décor. Crisp cloths cover the tables, animal-print fabrics adorn the seats, and the walls remain blank to accentuate abstract paintings of jazz ensembles that circle the room.
Kenzo Sushi Bistro's crafty culinary mariners serve up a fresh, creative menu culled and rolled from the fruits of the sea and much more. Commence the noshery with a hot appetizer such as the succulent scallop butteryaki ($9) or the well-behaved seven-spice calamari ($9), and cool off your tongue with cold starters such as fresh salmon ceviche ($9). Seafarers can sample the cougar roll, a zesty fusion of spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, and ponzu sauce, or up their bandwidth with a colorful collection of seaweed tubes such as sushi combo A ($16), which includes a luscious LAN party of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and more. Stop by during lunch hour for Kenzo's bento boxes, which pack a wallet-friendly wallop of a veggie roll, gyozo, four-piece California roll, steamed rice, and your choice of entree ($7–$8).
When Chef Jose Hernandez served as the pastry chef at Triniti, Houston Press's Mai Pham claimed that one of his desserts "rocked [her] friend's world so much that it left her speechless." Since then, the Mexican-born chef has opened his own restaurant, La Balance Cuisine, where he continues to show off his affinity for crafting gourmet desserts. His sweets range from Parisian classics to his own original creations. He also explores the scope of French cuisine, conjuring dishes such as quail with sausage, risotto with lamb ragout, and scallops dusted with mustard seeds. The aromas of his cooking meander through a modern dining space and straight into the noses of hungry French aristocrats waiting hopefully just outside the door.
Some might say the art of crafting desserts is in chef Hernandez's blood—he worked on his first sweets at the age of 14 as a culinary assistant in a Mexico City pastry kitchen. In the following decades, he moved through the kitchens of French restaurants in New York City and Houston, honing his skills in pastry-making and French cooking techniques. Recently, he used his knowledge to launch the baking and pastry program at Philippe Restaurant and Lounge.