After 30 years, one of Houston's most exclusive dining destinations is now open to the public. Manor House, the property on the Houstonian hotel campus that once served as President George H.W. and Barbara Bush's official Houston address, opened quietly for lunch in January.
Originally designed by celebrated architect John Staub as a home for Texas oilman Lawrence Reed, The Manor House has a special place in Houston's history. In addition to serving as President Bush's Houston address during his tenure as both CIA Director and Vice President, the house's Botantical Room hosted a treaty signing during the G-7 Economic Summit in 1990. Since 1986, it has operated as a private dining room for Houstonian hotel guests and club members. Why change after 30 years?
"It feels like the right time," Houstonian food and beverage director Jeff Everts tells CultureMap. "We wanted to give people the opportunity to come here and see what we’ve been doing."
What they've been doing is serving classic Creole dishes like lemon sole Meuniere ($26), filet Oscar ($30), and snapper Ponchartrain ($28) with a few nods to seasonality (crawfish bisque recently replaced French onion soup) and current trends (kale salad, steak tartare). The old-school menu matches the dining room's ambiance and the well-dressed patrons. Think of it as Brennan's west, minus the 25-cent martinis.
"Historically, the cuisine at Manor House has always matched Manor House. It is classical in every essence, so the cuisine has always done that," executive chef Neal Cox adds. "I would not say we’re doing any food that we haven’t done for the past 5, 10, or 15 years."
While the dining room exudes luxury, prices are reasonable; Manor House isn't exactly a steal, but it does offer good value. Entree salads all come in at under $15, and the filet is the most expensive item on the menu. Chef Cox and his team get the details right, too, by adding a generous topping of crab meat to dishes like the lemon sole.
Ultimately, Everts says he hopes to attract the same sort of clientele who have made the hotel's Olivette restaurant a destination for closing deals over breakfast. Galleria-area office workers looking for a luxurious lunch might find it to be an appealing alternative to places like RDG + Bar Annie or Masraff's.
Just be sure to dress up a bit. After all, when one dines where presidents have sat, t-shirts and shorts are best left at home.
Manor House is open for lunch Monday through Friday. Reservations may be made via OpenTable or calling 713-685-6840.