6 things to know

6 things to know in Houston food right now: Star chefs host a Beard Award tasting event, plus latest news

6 things to know in Houston food: Tastings, new menus, and more

Roma restaurant table spread
Kevin Bryant has introduced new dishes at Roma. Photo by Becca Wright
Local Group Brewing food spread
Danny Leal's new menu at Local Group includes a hot chicken sandwich. Photo by Dylan McEwan
Hunger Crush Cafe table spread
Sample classic fare at Hunger Crush Cafe. Courtesy of Hunger Crush Cafe
Roma restaurant table spread
Local Group Brewing food spread
Hunger Crush Cafe table spread

Editor’s note: Houston’s restaurant scene moves pretty fast. In order to prevent CultureMap readers from missing anything, let’s stop to look around at all the latest news to know.

Now open up north

Those heading to Lake Conroe for recreation have a new all-day cafe to consider. Hunger Crush Café serves an eclectic menu of classic American fare at breakfast and lunch daily with dinner on the weekends (15250 Hwy 105 W., in Montgomery). 

Open daily beginning at 8 am, owners Mike and Mary Kelton have created a restaurant that caters to a diverse set of tastes. Breakfast options include avocado toast, omelets, and three different pancake flavors — all of which can be paired with juices, mimosas, or a full range of espresso drinks. At lunch and dinner, choose from a range of sandwiches, salads, burgers, and entrees such as meatloaf, penne bolognese, and chicken fried steak.

Hunger Crush has a charitable component, too. An unspecific portion of proceeds from the sales of its “hunger boards” — family-style servings designed to feed a crowd — will be contributed to the Montgomery County Food Bank.

New menus

Chef Danny Leal has rolled out his offerings for Local Group Brewing, the brewery in Hardy Yards that reopened recently under new ownership. Available Thursday-Sunday, the menu includes dishes such as pork belly gorditas, smoked jalapeño and cheese sausage kolaches, and “hot and tangy” chicken sandwich served with Leal’s signature yucca fries. On the weekends, the chef adds barbacoa and carnitas tacos to his offerings. 

Most importantly, fans of the chef’s fare at shuttered cocktail bar Night Shift will be pleased to know that churros are available for dessert. Hours of operation are 4-10 pm Thursday and Friday, 11 am-10 pm Saturday and 11 am-8 pm Sunday.

Chef Kevin Bryant has put his stamp on the menu at Rice Village Italian restaurant Roma. A veteran of restaurants such as Tony’s and Eleven XI, Bryant’s new offerings include chilled octopus salad with roasted lemon vinaigrette, truffle-crusted cod over summer vegetables, and Tonno Alla Grillia, a grilled rare tuna over chilled cannellini bean salad with heirloom tomatoes, garlic, roasted lemon, and sundried tomato pesto. Vegetarians will find options such as risotto with spring vegetables and gnocchi with arugula and tomatoes.

Over time, Bryant hopes to add more tableside preparations. Currently, the restaurant features a whole fish that’s deboned at the table and Cacio e Pepe that includes spaghetti tossed tableside in a pecorino bowl.

“We’re putting love in the food,” Bryant said in a statement. “Love is understanding the ingredients and knowing why you put certain ingredients in a pan, in a certain order. Italian food is that deep down grandmother inside of you, showing you the art of it, grabbing the best tomato and basil, and creating an exceptional product out of it. We’re striving to create the best experience and version of what’s offered.”

Food happenings

Norwegian chef Christopher Haatuft will host a series of dinners this week at Golfstrommen, the restaurant he opened in the Post Market food hall. Known as the father of Neo-Fjordic cuisine, Haatuft will collaborate with chef Paul Qui and Golfstrommen chef de cuisine Biggie Cruz to serve dishes inspired by Lysverket, his restaurant in Bergen, Norway. Expect menus that highlight the chef’s interest in sustainable ingredients. Options include dinners this week that utilize North Atlantic seafood like squid, lobster, salt cod (bacalao), and mackerel as well as a brunch on Sunday, July 3. Make reservations via the Resy app

The James Beard Foundation has released the menu for its Taste America event that’s taking place this Wednesday, June 29 at Silver Street Studios. They include: Dawn Burrell (Late August), Cured Salmon with Tamarind Tiger Fry, Cucumber, and Crunchy Salmon Skin; Evelyn Garcia and Henry Lu (Kin HTX), Ceviche with Lemongrass Leche de Tigre, Chili Oil, and Sesame Crisp; Christine Ha and Tony J. Nguyen (Xin Chào), Vietnamese Wagyu Meatball; Rebecca Masson (Fluff Bake Bar), Star Crossed Lover Bars; Kaitlin Steets (Theodore Rex), Tomato Toast, and Michelle Wallace (Gatlin’s BBQ), Hickory-Smoked Catfish with Deconstructed Dirty Rice

Tickets, available here, include samples from the participating chefs, drinks from event sponsors, and music by DJ Seek, aka Blood Bros. BBQ co-founder Robin Wong. 

Brasil will host a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood this Friday, July 1. Executive chef AJ Ede has recruited a talented group of friends for the event. Brasil will donate proceeds from Ede’s signature “Cheeseburger in Paradise” (a bacon cheeseburger with jalapeño sauce), while Brasil general manager Beryl Fergus has created a boozy strawberry lemonade for the event. Other participants include bartender Dani Taylan, chef Nick Wong, and CultureMap Tastemaker Awards winners Christina Au (Blacksmith) and Josh Deleon (Underground Creamery), each of whom will have sweet treats for sale. The event starts at 11 am and goes until sold out.