On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," proprietor Charles Clark and chef Michael Hoffman join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Brasserie 19. Clark and Grant Cooper recently ended their business partnership, leaving Clark as the River Oaks restaurant's sole owner.
Clark begins the conversation by reviewing the history of his partnership with Cooper and explaining the reasons they amicably parted. From there, he and Hoffman discuss life at Brasserie 19 over the past couple of months.
Known for its French-inspired cuisine, lively atmosphere, and see-and-be-seen crowd, the restaurant remains a staple in River Oaks. Sometimes customers make seemingly over-the-top requests, but Clark considers it his duty to exceed people's expectations.
"My rule is I can make anything happen. I had a 10-top walk in, and they didn't have a reservation. I told the hostess, 'I'm going to invent a 10-top.' I brought in a table from outside, mooved two tables," Clark says. "In the dining room, you've got to think, 'what can I do to make people happy.' If you do that, the customer is always on your side. No one wants to hear no. It's made a big difference. Sales have increased about 12 or 13-percent since I've been there."
The conversation continues with Clark and Hoffman discussing the new menu they introduced this week. Clark also shares some ideas he has for future projects, including a new bar that would be walking distance from Brasserie 19.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Michael Fulmer discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the Houston chefs and restaurants named as semifinalists for the 2022 James Beard Awards; the closure of Salt & Time at Post Houston; and Henderson & Kane's plans to open a second location at the Houston Farmers Market.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Fulmer and Sandler discuss their recent meal at Wild Oats, Underbelly Hospitality's new restaurant devoted to Texas cuisine. They rave about dishes like chili and wood-grilled chicken while explaining why the much-discussed chicken fried steak came up a little short.