Food for Thought
Fresh from the Ocean’s: A sneak taste in the saved Tudor home
By now you know that a couple of brothers from Mexico City have rescued the old Bistro Vino from the wrecking ball.
Isaac Alvarez, a chef, and Jorge Alvarez, a residential developer, have a lease to own contract on the property at 819 W. Alabama and are set to open Ocean’s in the charming 1930’s two-story Tudor-style home on May 21.
Great news for preservationists, but what about foodies?
No need to worry, it's all good news.
I spent Cinco de Mayo basking in the warm sunshine on the garden patio of this once lovely establishment that is now being brought back to life, imbibing in ceviche and margaritas.
The margaritas are divine, and they sneak up on you, so watch out: Tequila, lime and a touch of orange juice. No powdered mixes here. Possibly one of the best, freshest 'ritas in town.
Once Ocean’s opens, this backyard paradise should be a popular spot for cocktails for the in crowd. Not that that includes me. Oh, and the upstairs will also be a bar, with tables downstairs — in the house that Jorge and his construction crew have renovated, while luckily keeping most of the wood beams and original fireplace.
It will be wonderful to see this spot, once known as the place for wedding receptions, romantic dinners and special luncheons back in business. Although, I suspect it will be a younger, hipper crowd that comes for the cocktails and seafood.
And, since this column is called Food for Thought let’s get down to the eats part.
While there will be a full menu, including steak, pasta and community platters, the Alvarez boys really want to make a splash on the ceviche scene. In fact, they plan on having ten ceviches at the ceviche bar (and why hasn’t someone thought of that before?) all fresh and laid out in front of you.
“But it’s a modern Mexican cuisine,” says consulting executive chef Rafael Corzo, a friend of the brothers and head chef at the NE Hotel Nueva Estancia in Leon, Mexico. “The dishes we are creating are fresh fusion like our Oriental ceviche with Asian flavors and the scallop carpaccio.”
They’ve also created the Maximilian taco, a sort of shrimp fondue in a tortilla, and the delectable Sinaloa tostado topped with plump shrimp, red onion circles, avocado slices and chopped green olives. I don’t think I’ve ever paired shrimp with green olives before but the explosion of flavors is quite a kick. There are some Spanish tapas recipes for the combo, but I’m currently working on a pizza recipe for chipotle shrimp with green olives.
I’ll let you know how that turns out. But I digress. Back to Ocean’s.
Mexican, Spanish, Asian, Ocean’s fusion is a globe trotting experience in eating.
“We’ve lived all over the world and we wanted to create our own concept in food that combines all of the flavors we love,” Jorge says. “There is not one place in the U.S. that serves this type of food.”
From what I sampled, he may be right. The food is quite different from what you can get at Yelapa Playa Mexicana Restaurant where chef L. J. Wiley does some pretty creative things with coastal Mexican dishes (peanuts in the guacamole!) and from Hugo’s where chef Hugo Ortega whips out crunchy fried grasshoppers and a wicked duck with red mole.
So, hopefully, there’s room on the Houston food scene for Ocean’s because, one, we can never have enough Mexican restaurants and, two, having seen this beautiful house and garden get saved from the wrecking ball, we really don’t want to see it in danger again.