Eaters chatter over steaming plates of modern Italian cuisine at Amadeus Italian Restaurant and Piano Bar, set to a score of live music. Servers buzz about a recently renovated dining room, delivering Shakespearean monologues to the menu's signature crab-cakes app dribbled with a lemon sauce and accompanied by a side of jalapeño remoulade ($12). Eight-ounce filet mignons replenish dwindling energy stashes, cascading with wild mushroom-gorgonzola cream or green peppercorn brandy demi-glace ($27). Chefs tier jumbo lump crabmeat and pico de gallo atop blackened red snapper Vera Cruz ($25) in an edible homage to Pisa's famous Leaning Tower of Seafood.
Bailey's modern, chic exterior gives way to a casual and cozy dining room perfect for perusing the dinner menu. Start your meal with flatbreads featuring smoked chicken and four cheese ($10) or southern pulled pork ($11), or opt for the shrimp and grits ($12). Entrees include a wide selection of seafood, steaks, and chops. Sesame-seared ahi with sweet soy sauce and spicy sriracha ($27) brings Asian influence, or swim back to this side of the Brazos River with brewhouse barbecue shrimp ($20). Steaks and chops include an aged 20-oz. bone-in ribeye with Bailey's own Worcestershire sauce and potatoes au gratin ($33), aged 8-oz. filet mignon with a zinfandel reduction and garlic-herb mashed potatoes ($35), and Colorado lamb chops with a truffle sauce, garlic-herb mashed potatoes, and sautéed spinach ($30). Because the restaurant only buys locally raised meat, seafood, and produce, Bailey's will calm the environmentalist nerves of your conscience's conscience.
The menu at Bakkhus is loaded with traditional Greek recipes with modern twists and shouts. Start off a meal with an appetizer such as fire feta dip, which adds Serrano peppers, olive oil, and spices to the Greek cheese for a spicy pita-chip-dipping delight ($7.95), or a hot plate of loukanika, the Greek sausage ($8.95). Evening diners sup on a traditional gyro platter ($13.95) or the snapper Santorini ($21.95). But Bakkhus's lunch specialties perform the Herculean feat of freeing Prometheus from plastic-baggie handcuffs. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week, come in for a Mykonos burger (half pound Angus patty marinated in red wine and topped with jalapeños and pineapple, $8.95), a plate of kefte pasta (angel hair with Greek meatballs and crumbled feta, $9.95), or an old-school gyro pita complete with tzatziki ($7.95) with a side of spanakopita ($4.75).
It was 1984 when Gil Lobreck left Bangkok and re-settled in Seabrook, Texas, introducing his new home to traditional Thai dishes in his restaurant, Bay Thai. Almost two decades later, Gil’s son Andrew decided to continue the family tradition by building his own restaurant—Merlion—where he peppers his dad's recipes with occasional American influences to present a new twist on established Thai staples. In addition to making five different curries flavored with everything from lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves to nutmeg and cloves, Chef Andrew also designs inventive seafood dishes such as wild-caught salmon served with a sake-mushroom cream sauce and wasabi-spiked mashed potatoes. These more creative entrees appear alongside a familiar sounding selection of wok-seared noodle dishes, Thai fried rice, and marinated satay skewers. The terracotta tile floor and apple-red walls of Merlion’s dining room stand out amid the black banquettes and tables draped with crisp white linens. One of the most striking elements, however, is the brick and stone bar, which complements the warm colors and earth tones used throughout the space, and serves as a protective barrier between bartenders and any big bad wolves they refuse to serve.
In true farm-to-table fashion, Chef Coco Hogue of Tabella at Clear Creek Winery sources the majority of her ingredients from onsite gardens, local farmers, ranchers, and other homegrown producers. Each day before dinner service, she strolls through the restaurant’s backyard picking items for the day’s menu such as herbs, baby vegetables, and forks from the silverware tree. As a photographer and painter, Chef Hogue believes in beautiful presentation, which she achieves by delicately plating entrees such as coffee-rubbed pork loin and grilled quail with sides such as potato gratin and brussels-sprout hash. During three- to twelve-course dinners, fresh seafood found within 5 miles of the restaurant is one of four protein choices, and it is prepared to match the evening’s wine selection.
While The Cock & Bull Pub and Restaurant's actual bricks and mortar reside in Seabrook, its interior might as well be 5,000 miles away in a cozy corner of Manchester. The eatery's UK vibe emanates from a menu of British specialties, with chefs preparing classics including bangers and mash, fish and chips, and shepherds pie. Guests wash down these creation with pints from the generous taps, which house 55 beers suitable for any taste or occasion.
In addition to the authentic food and drinks, the pub also maintains the same communal conviviality of its cross-Atlantic cousins. Throughout the week, musicians fill the space with largely acoustic live music, with styles ranging from Scottish folk to Texas country. The proprietors also maintain an in-pub library, a cozy corner with couches where guests may retire for a light repast and a bit of scandalous rumor-mongering about the poor state of the neighbors' lands.