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If at first you don't succeed: Galleria-area hotel tries comfort food at "cursed" restaurant

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Hotel Derek Revolve Interior
A look inside Revolve. Sadly, no pictures of anyone playing Wii tennis.  Courtesy photo
Hotel Derek Revolve chicken fried short rib
Chicken fried short rib bites with smoked gravy in pipette.  Courtesy photo
Hotel Derek Revolve Interior pool table
Pool tables at night show that Revolve knows how to party. Courtesy photo
Hotel Derek Revolve banana pudding
Banana pudding, that comfort dessert of the menu, gets reinterpreted at Revolve.  Courtesy photo
Hotel Derek Revolve Interior
Yes, that's a cow print rug, because we live in Texas. Courtesy photo
Hotel Derek Revolve cornish game hen
Ok, this cornish game hen with cornbread pudding actually looks really good. Courtesy photo
Hotel Derek Revolve halibut
Seared halibut over cauliflower risotto.  Courtesy photo
Hotel Derek Revolve Interior
Hotel Derek Revolve chicken fried short rib
Hotel Derek Revolve Interior pool table
Hotel Derek Revolve banana pudding
Hotel Derek Revolve Interior
Hotel Derek Revolve cornish game hen
Hotel Derek Revolve halibut
Eric Sandler head shot column mug March 2014

What's the line about the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Give credit to Destination Hotels & Resorts, the company that took over the Hotel Derek last year, for one thing — they aren't insane. They'll keep trying different things and hoping that one of them finally works.  

In a release issued Wednesday, the hotel announced that its fifth restaurant in 12 years, Revolve Kitchen + Bar,  promises "an edgy and fun twist on traditional hotel dining in a space that evolves throughout the day."

What does that mean, exactly? Well, Revolve features a flexible space that has a casual coffee bar in the morning, meeting spaces for business travelers in the afternoon and a craft beer bar at night. On the menu, chef Shannen Tune serves kicked up comfort food like huevos rancheros in a cast iron skillet at breakfast, grilled cheese at lunch and lobster pot pie at dinner. 

 Revolve Kitchen + Bar promises "an edgy and fun twist on traditional hotel dining in a space that evolves throughout the day." 

Yes, this really is the fifth restaurant concept at the Derek. While it's tempting to label the space "cursed," that doesn't really explain why the offerings have been so subpar. To review: The hotel opened with Cuban/Chinese fusion concept Ling & Javier that became Maverick Supper + Whiskey after a couple of years. Both of them were trendy see-and-be-seen spots with nebulous execution and so-so food that came and went with only the occasional terrible review left to pay them any tribute at all.

The hotel's restaurant history reached a creative high point when Philippe Schmit moved to Houston to open Bistro Moderne, but a prior owner tossed it aside and brought in the Italian-themed Valentino Vin Bar from celebrity chef Piero Selvaggio. Despite the promises of fresh Italian crudos and top-notch pastas, it never found an audience, and the restaurant has been without a specific brand while the hotel underwent another series of renovations. Now comes Revolve Kitchen + Bar, which promises to bring a "cool and hip" vibe to a space that's never quite caught on with diners.  

Despite a glowing account of Revolve's potential in the Chron's first report of the new name and concept, the news should probably be greeted with some skepticism. After all, it feels like the Stefon version of a recipe for a trendy Houston restaurant. This place has everything. A name with an unnecessary + sign. Texas-themed decor with "touches of designer cow print textures." A comfort food menu straight out of 2009. A burger topped with peanut butter, bacon and a fried egg. Pool tables. Craft beer. TV screens that, according to a release, "are equipped to show presentations, surf the web or morph into a competitive game of Wii tennis." 

Yes, it's 2014, and people still "surf the web." Who knew? Does that happen on the Information Superhighway?

Credit Nathan Ketcham, the former proprietor of the much-missed Samba Grille for succinctly summarizing the appropriate reaction to this news.

 

Anyway, if the thought of another place for shrimp and grits sounds like a good idea, or someone wants to find out what chicken fried short rib bites with smoked gravy pipettes tastes like, Revolve is open now and ready to serve.

If not, don't fret. It'll probably be something else in a couple of years. 

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