After all the crowds during the holidays, it’s been nice to dine out in the early January days when most folks are back to the regular grind. The last three days that I’ve eaten out, the places have been almost empty.
I like having a restaurant almost to myself.
Which was pretty much what we had last Monday for lunch at 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, the new restaurant in Upper Kirby. I took a friend and my Dad there as a post holiday treat. I’d eaten here once already and had some very good crab cakes, but I wanted to go back and try the Akaushi HeartBrand Beef that is the main feature of the menu.
It was a freakishly cold day (for Houston) and when I arrived the restaurant was empty.
The filet comes with smashed potatoes. They were like eating the inside of a baked potato, warm deliciousness with bits of skin, chives and bacon.
After two phone calls Dad finally made it there. The construction work on Westheimer Road (will they ever finish?) and the patio buildout at the restaurant made it harder for him to find. A little latter my pal Jennifer showed up. She had no trouble finding it, she just couldn’t remember the name.
“Sixty what?” she kept asking.
It is a bit of a mouthful.
But speaking of mouthfuls, sometimes if you dine at an empty restaurant the service and the food can be hit or miss. It’s harder for staff when there’s no regular rhythm to work by. But both the service and the food that day were spot on.
We ordered a bottle of wine and the faux dove appetizer.
Me: “Why is called faux dove? It’s chicken.”
Waiter: “It’s more fun than saying chicken.”
Whatever, I’ll just call it delicious. Chef Fritz Gitschner, formerly of the Houston Country Club and the only Certified Master Chef in town, starts with a pressed chicken breast, rolls it around Jack cheese and jalapeños, wraps it in Akaushi bacon, cooks it and smears it with prickly pear barbeque sauce. I highly recommend it, even though I’ve always been suspicious of bacon made of beef.
Is it really bacon if it’s not pork? Again, call it whatever you want, but I want it! Just a wonderful appetizer.
The Main Course
Everyone chose a different entree: I had the four-ounce Akaushi filet mignon (the steaks are priced by the ounce); Dad had the chicken schnitzel, a recipe from the chef’s mother; and Jennifer went with the BBLT, a burger with fried green tomatoes, red tomatoes, bacon and more on a pretzel bun. No, we did not order the $200 hamburger.
There were sweet potato fries and the white truffle fries that are surprisingly delicious. Instead of truffle oil (can we just agree to ban this in 2014?) they use truffle powder and it really makes a difference in the taste.
The filet comes with smashed potatoes. They were like eating the inside of a baked potato, warm deliciousness with bits of skin, chives and bacon. I assume it was also beef bacon.
As for the steak, I’ve had Akaushi beef before at Tony’s and I know it doesn’t cook the same as regular beef because of the marbling and the oleic acids. It’s supposed to be very heart healthy.
After a short conversation with the waiter (“I really like my filets black and blue. “I do, too!” “But I’m not sure you can do that with this steak so just let the chef decide.”) he returned with a perfect steak that I devoured.
The crust was perfectly blackened; there was a pink ring below that and then a cool, but not raw, red center.
I know it’s early, but so far it’s the best steak of 2014.
I have to say I’m impressed by this place. Despite the fact that only one other table arrived during the lunch hour, the service and food was incredible. When a restaurant is slammed, you really have to expect some glitches and when it’s empty you usually expect the same. It’s just the way it goes. But to have such a fine meal with only two tables during the entire service speaks well for both the kitchen and front of house staff.
Thank you 60 . . . oh, whatever.