What's Eric Eating Episode 129

Why fine dining remains relevant in 2020, plus West U's buzzy new hot spot

Why fine dining remains relevant in 2020, plus West U's new hot spot

Valerio Lombardozzi La Table
Valerio Lombardozzi prepares a tableside steak. Courtesy of La Table
La Table chicken for two
La Table's famous chicken for two. Courtesy of La Table
Steven Conklin La Table
Chef Steven Conklin. Courtesy of La Table
El Topo spread
El Topo's menu includes housemade croissants. Photo by Eric Sandler
Buffburger yardbird chicken sandwich
BuffBurger's surprise closings leads the news of the week. Photo by Megha Tejpal
Valerio Lombardozzi La Table
La Table chicken for two
Steven Conklin La Table
El Topo spread
Buffburger yardbird chicken sandwich

On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Steven Conklin and general manager Valerio Lombardozzi join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss La Table, the French-influenced fine dining restaurant near the Galleria. The conversation begins with both men describing the paths that led them to Houston.

The conversation touches on a variety of topics, including Conklin's relationship with Invest Hospitality, the New York-based firm that manages La Table, how Lombardozzi learned the secrets of tableside preparation, and the ingredients that justify the $90 price tag of the restaurant's signature whole chicken for two. Sandler, something of a fine dining skeptic, asks Conklin what makes La Table's approach different from other, more casual establishments that also serve high-quality food. 

"What makes La Table and fine dining special is there's not a lot of it. Food and ingredients always have to be special, obviously, but when you eat out a lot, not a lot of restaurants recognize guests every single time," the chef says. "If you want to spend money and you like a place and want to go there over and over again, by your second visit, we know who you are. We're taking notes on what you like. Every time you come in, we're trying to achieve what your goals are."   

Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Matt Harris discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: BuffBurger suddenly closing two of its three restaurants; Bagel Bob's imminent return to the Memorial area; and Treebeards' plans to open its first location outside of downtown. 

In the restaurants of the week segment, the hosts discuss their recent meals at El Topo, the recently opened brick and mortar home of the popular food truck, and Guard and Grace, downtown's stylish new steakhouse.

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