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Pastry chef Catherine Rodriguez’s Buffalo Bayou Mud Cake

FEATURES

Paying Tribute

By Robin Barr Sussman

Photography by Julie Soefer

12.20.18

A pioneering spirit and rowdy Southern flavors unite at the rechristened restaurant in The Houstonian Hotel.

When Olivette opened in 2000 in The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, it was right on trend. Modern Mediterranean was hot. Chefs were showcasing olive oil, fresh fish and light sauces as a nod to healthful dining. Fast-forward 10 years and new restaurants like Tribute, replacing Olivette, find their calling based on terroir. “Our concept is Tex-Lex, a collection of flavors from Texas, Louisiana and Mexico—the roots of the city’s culinary history,” says executive chef Neal Cox, an eight-year veteran of the hotel.

Houstonians and international visitors frequenting the beloved inn are wowed by the luxurious $3 million renovation of the restaurant, lounge, pre-function Hearth Room and intimate wine room by Gensler. Guests are greeted by dazzling back-lit glass wine lockers. Wood floors complement the dining room’s rustic ceiling beams, accented by antique gold mirrors, deep amber leather chairs and a modern light sculpture of metallic tree branches glowing with crystals. The natural touches echo beautiful views of wooded lawns from new wall-to-wall windows.

While the mesmerizing setting will relax even the most stressed urbanite, the food will make you sit up and take notice. Big, spicy, multilayered dishes hit all the right notes thanks to the kitchen dream team. “Our chefs hail from each emphasized culinary region: Mexican flavors from sous-chef Juan Tuch, Louisiana from chef de cuisine Jeff Boudreaux and Texas influences from me,” says Cox.

The wood-fired Gulf oysters served with sizzling chorizo butter and a fresh baguette.

Bubbling with chorizo butter, wood-fired Gulf oysters are a fitting start for dinner. Do throw in the terrific, beautifully composed sope de cabrito—blue corn masa cakes topped with refried black beans, spicy braised goat, pickled onions and jalapeños. Sommelier Vanessa Trevino Boyd may pluck from her cool new wine cellar Spanish Petalos Bierzo ’15, a brilliant pairing for the textures, spice and meatiness of the cabrito dish. Let her surprise you!

Share, or try to tackle alone, the imposing and tender house-smoked wagyu short rib, wickedly rich, served with grilled creamed corn and pickled veggies, “a nod to taquerias and barbecue smokehouses,” explains Cox. Another audacious choice is Gulf shrimp and smoked oxtail in Creole barbecue sauce over cheddar and green onion grits—shrimp and grits on steroids. Well-executed classics include wood-grilled redfish glazed with cascabel salsa, roasted duck, double-cut Rocky Mountain lamb chop and the 10-ounce Texas Black Angus filet mignon seasoned with house rub.

Desserts by pastry chef Catherine Rodriguez, like the showy Buffalo Bayou Mud Cake with peanut butter ice cream drizzled with melted fudge sauce by your server, will elicit oohs and ahhs. Comfort food with bling, Houston style.  

Handhewn Brazilian crystals drip from custom-made branch chandeliers flowing through the center of the dining room.

TRIBUTE
111 North Post Oak Lane, 713.685.6713

PRICES: Small plates, $9-$18; entrees, $24-$48; desserts, $10
HOURS: Breakfast 6:30-11am; lunch 11am-3pm; dinner 5-10pm daily