On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Jonathan Levine joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Jonathan's the Rub. Last week, Levine celebrated the 10th anniversary of his popular Memorial-area restaurant.
The chef shares the circumstances that brought him to Houston 15 years ago and how Jonathan's has evolved over the years. He also describes the experiences that led to the restaurant's something-for-everyone menu.
Currently, Levine is working on opening a second location of Jonathan's in the Memorial Green development that's slated to open this summer. He discusses how the project came to fruition and his decision to work with consultants Linda Salinas and Shepard Ross to bring the new Jonathan's to life.
Most significantly, the new restaurant's menu will be informed by Levine's new interest in interior Mexican cuisine. Next month, Levine will travel to Mexico City and Oaxaca City to study the cuisine in order to better incorporate those influences into his cooking. What is it about Mexican food that intrigues him, Sandler asks.
"There's two things. The first thing is the combination of chiles. I'm using five and six chiles that I never heard of back east. It's amazing the different flavors, the different heat. And the cheeses, also," Levine says. "And then, I'm a big mole guy. I have to go to Oaxaca City, because it's the epicenter of mole. I'm going to try to incorporate those into new dishes. I am already. I've put specials on that I've mastered. Getting rave receptions. They're becoming our top-selling specials when we run them."
Prior to Levine's interview, local restaurant consultant Nathan Ketcham joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include Lee Ellis' surprising departure from Cherry Pie Hospitality, Pizaro's Pizza's plans to relocate its Memorial-area restaurant, and the annoucement that Denver's Guard and Grace steakhouse will open a location in downtown Houston next year. In the restaurant of the week segment, Sandler and Ketcham share their first impressions of Feges BBQ, the newly opened barbecue joint in Greenway Plaza, and Ketcham offers a couple of restaurant tips from his recent visit to Seattle.