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Chef Plans Steak Bar

Rising chef returns to Gulf Coast roots, plans steak bar and pop-up supper club

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chef Ben McPherson of Batanga holding fish
Former Batanga chef Ben McPherson will display his fondness for Texas meat and Gulf Coast seafood at his new concept The Bull & The Pearl.  Facebook
RodeoHouston BBQ Cookoff 2014
Matt Wommack, left, will assist McPherson.  Photo by David M. Jackson/Courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
chef Ben McPherson of Batanga holding fish
RodeoHouston BBQ Cookoff 2014

Former Batanga chef Ben McPherson has launched his next project, but it isn't what one would expect from the man who created a menu of Latin-inspired tapas. Named The Bull & The Pearl, McPherson's launched a series of pop-ups dinners and one-off supper club events built around pastured Texas meat, Gulf Coast seafood and seasonal produce.

"I’m from the Gulf Coast," McPherson tells CultureMap as an explanation about the the direction of his new project. "It lured and kept me here in Houston; I get to be south of I-10 again. It’s definitely in my blood."

His partner in the project is well-traveled cook Matt Wommack, who says that he, too, fell in love with Texas cuisine after moving to Houston from Canada in 1999. Together, the two are crafting menus based on their trips to farmers markets, farms and purveyors for ingredients that inspire them. 

Eventually, McPherson and Wommack hope to open a restaurant built around these concepts, which McPherson refers to as a "steak bar" instead of a "steakhouse." For now, they're starting small, with a pop-up March 24 at Good Dog Houston from 6 to 10 p.m.

Two weeks later, McPherson and Wommack will launch the first supper club. Where the pop-ups will be casual and inexpensive, the supper clubs will feature three to five course menus with drinks prepared by a guest bartender and priced around $100 per person. McPherson says he intends to keep the locations secret and only announce them a day or two before the event, "like a rave," he says with a laugh. 

Houston certainly doesn't lack for steakhouses, but McPherson thinks he can stand out by serving composed plates that use a wider variety of proteins than beef. Decide for yourself when the pop-ups begin. 

Here's the menu for the first Bull & Pearl pop-up:

Baked Oysters, Bone Marrow Butter, Pecorino, Salsa Verde

Crawfish Pie, Avocado, Morito Chili Remoulade, Mâché

Beet Cappelletti Pasta, Golden Beets, Texas Olive Oil, Green Garlic, Blackberry Vinegar, Pecorino

Wagyu Beef Crudo, Smoked Oysters, Celeriac-Horseradish Salad, Mint, Creme Fraiche

Blessington Farms Strawberries, Buttermilk Biscuit, Cajeta, Peanut Brittle, Roasted Meyer Lemon Ice Cream

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