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Avant garde restaurants in Texas


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#1 lvtxn

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 11:51 PM

I was just wondering if there are any avant garde restaurants in Texas? To my knowledge there are none. I just wanted to hear peoples thoughts on the subject and if they think one could survive. And what city would be most accepting to a place like that.

#2 Kevin72

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 07:15 AM

If you put molecular gastronomy in the avant garde tent, then probably the best example that comes to mind is Randy Rucker in Houston. He ran a place called laidback manor that unforunately didn't make it (which answers your second question). Fortunately he stuck it out in Houston, ran a supper club called Tenacity, and I believe just recently took over the kitchen at Rainbow Lodge with a menu revamp coming soon. Soma in Houston seems to be experimenting with the idea, and there's other chefs like Gasper Noe incorporating some novel concepts in their cooking.

I think a case can be made for any of the "big three" to get an avant garde place that takes off. Houston has such a rich cultural stew that I think its populace is open to anything, Austin has a younger and more adventurous crowd, and Dallas seems to do pretty well with its top end places, so if one tailors their concept accordingly I think people would come around. Of course the present economic situation is another matter. . .

#3 jsmeeker

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 02:41 PM

I don't really know what makes a restaurant "avant garde" in your book, so it's tough to say if any restaurants in Dallas would qualify.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

#4 lvtxn

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 03:27 AM

I don't really know what makes a restaurant "avant garde" in your book, so it's tough to say if any restaurants in Dallas would qualify.

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avant garde in this case is restaurants that are using molecular gastronomy

#5 theabroma

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 12:14 PM

I don't really know what makes a restaurant "avant garde" in your book, so it's tough to say if any restaurants in Dallas would qualify.

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avant garde in this case is restaurants that are using molecular gastronomy

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Please! Dallas? No ... unless you want to count the fact that I-35 runs through it on the way to Chicago.

I'd save my frequent fliers and head off to face the linen at Adria's, Blumenthal's, Achatz', or Dufresne's tables. Keller flirts with it, but has not, to date, taken a full gainer into the pool.

This, however, is not really a 'cuisine' which would lend itself to a high-end WalMartization ... think of the godawful spawn of the Isi siphon and gelling media.

There are, however, several excellent and not self-consciously flashy here in Big-D.


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#6 Bill Miller

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 10:29 PM

Outside Barcelona, you might try Austin. Please research your market--there is nothing worse than going broke making a statement. In the end there is no satisfaction. Your family comes to your aid and you are humiliated. Research your market.

Edited by Bill Miller, 30 November 2008 - 10:35 PM.

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#7 slo_ted

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 02:12 AM

You will never see it in the Lone Star State. Who there would eat that agarized, foamed, antigriddled stuff when you could easily get a hunk of pit bbq'd beef and rip it apart with your hands and wash it down with a cold beer. Hook 'em Horns!

#8 Kevin72

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 08:15 AM

I dunno; five years ago would it have been accepted that one of the if not the most avant garde restaurant in the country would be located in Chicago, land of the polish sausage and the deep dish pizza?

I still think there's a strong likelihood that it could take off in Texas, probably moreso Houston or Austin but still. I mean it's quite a leap, sure, for people to go from eating a well done filet mignon to shrimp cotton candy with seaweed air, but you can work elements of it into what's already familiar. Foams, airs, etc., could work their wayin as a sauce, you could have "gelled" vegetables as a side to a dish, etc., etc.

BTW, I don't know how I came up with Gaspar Noe up there; I meant Robert Gadsby (sp?) formerly of Noe and Soma, in Houston. Apologies for any confusion.

#9 lvtxn

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 04:15 AM

Its hard to say it could never be done in the lone star state. Its true not even chicago knew that they were going to have such a change from the deep dish to weird service piece and the frozen meat. You really don't even need a city when you think about places like the french laundry, the fat duck, mugaritz, and michele bras. They are restaurants doing food both traditional and foamy at places in the middle of nowhere. Would blumenthol fail if he opened a restaurant in houston? What if somebody could blend the avant garde with the french laundry and meet in the middle could that work. Who knows but I've got some avant garde under my belt and I'll be cooking at the french laundry monday and tuesday. But for now this is just research which means Ill probably end up running a diner or a bistro. That way is much easier.

#10 danhole

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 02:01 PM

You should check out Bedford, the new restaurant that Gadsby recently opened in Houston. The are a lot of local food blogger that have reviews about it and it is pretty avant garde, and is being well received.


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#11 jayejo

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 06:12 PM

I feel like the pastry chef at Uchi in Austin has experimented a little bit, but not gone full-blown molecular.

As far as seeing this in Austin, I just can't picture it. Yes, we're a little more adventurous, but we're also kind of poor these days. Austin is more about hole in the walls than anything else in my opinion.
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#12 lvtxn

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 04:54 AM

Thanks for the recomendations on uchi and bedford. They both look like they are doing good food in the lone star state. I really want to try uchi and have known about the restaurant for a while. Chef clole seems like a down to earth guy as well. I have looked for pictures but there isn't really a lot out there. It would be nice to see as much food as possible from the two chefs.

#13 Kevin72

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 09:47 AM

Scott Tycer and Plinio Sandalio also seem to be flirting with avant garde techniques and incorporating those ideas into the cooking at Textile.
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#14 Kent Wang

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 05:53 PM

I feel like the pastry chef at Uchi in Austin has experimented a little bit, but not gone full-blown molecular.

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The dessert menu I saw at Uchi last week looked very plain, just some sorbets, nothing fancy. When was this, and what kind of dishes?

#15 Baselerd

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 02:36 PM

Bringing back this zombie since I've been fairly interested in this. Austin has quite a few restaurants that have been moving into this realm. Not quite to the extent of restaurants such as Alinea or Minibar, but I have seen plenty of foams, gels, smoke, sous vide, and overall modern presentations at quite a few restaurants here.

Obviously Uchi and Uchiko are always listed as the top restaurants in Austin, which deserve that spot. These restaurants are full-blown molecular gastronomy, but use some modern techniques in some of their components. They have an awesome sous vide pork belly dish (Bacon Steakie). Another good modern spot to check out is the Barley Swine.

I would highly reccomend Congress or Carillon if you want more avant garde food, although the former comes at a cost (and is likely the closest you'll get to what you want without going to Chicago).

Edited by Baselerd, 21 June 2012 - 02:37 PM.

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