By noon on Sunday, the mercury had certainly moved up past what one might call a mild summery morning. Walking into the new Concepción, I was faced with a dilemma: Take my brunch in the spacious, air conditioned dining room or brave the heat on the patio.
I decided that I am not ready to cede my outdoor brunches to the heat just yet, and picked a table near a large circulating fan.
Even without the fan, this patio is designed to be comfortable. There's a fair amount of shade, and the resplendent greenery doesn't just block noise, it also seems to make the whole space feel more chill, even if that's just in my head.
Jones has talked about taking on a location that has been dubbed "cursed," and he is quick to defend it, describing his patio as one of the best in Houston.
Those who aren't familiar with the patio from the Ocean's or Bistro Vino eras in this locale will find a huge wooden deck that holds about a dozen tables with umbrellas, some lounge furniture at the rear, plus a full bar set-up and a small DJ stand playing dancy beats from Miike Snow to Human League at a nice background volume.
It took me about 30 seconds to go from "I'm not drinking because yesterday my friend invented flip cup power hour" to "well maybe just one mimosa won't hurt" to "I guess we might as well order the carafe." Bonus: For an extra $5, you can pick two juices from Concepción's selection. The manager recommended guava, but I couldn't resist the urge to mix orange and pineapple. Orange pineapple mimosas are the mimosas of champions.
Also I should mention that there was food there. The menu notes that everything is meant to be shared, although the size of the dishes varies from large tapas to splittable entree. I dug into the chilaquiles, a messy bowl of refried black beans, lightly fried eggs, homemade, slightly soft tortilla chips, Mexican-style cheese and salsa. I've had executive chef Jonathan Jones' version of the dish before at Xuco Xucana, and the Concepción version was even better, with more balance between the ingredients and slightly less heft.
At the other end of the spectrum, a salad offered a mixture of light greens mixed with a couple eggs over medium (my friend couldn't get over how rare a perfect over-medium egg is), a light touch of creamy dressing and a handful of light, crispy chicharrones for a solid crunch. (It also comes with avocado, but that was too rich for us.)
I am borderline obsessed with the simple yet delicious mollete, a halved piece of bolillo bread topped with a thin layer of refried black beans and cheese, then toasted and finally covered in a smattering of pico de gallo, served fresh and crispy with lots of jalapeño flavor.
Sated but curious, I couldn't resist the siren call of fried flan from the brief dessert menu. The flan was served in a trio of crunchy nuggets over a bed of ice cream cooled by liquid nitrogen (it wasn't smoking but looked a little bit like feta at first glance), plus strawberry slices. The flan tasted like a richer, creamier funnel cake and I rather like the rough but melty texture of the vanilla ice cream rocks.
Jones has talked about taking on a location that has been dubbed "cursed," and he is quick to defend it, describing his patio as one of the best in Houston. Based on my first impression of the menu and the ambience that Jones and co-owner Jorge Alvarez have created, I can't help but agree.