On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Graham Laborde and Benjy Mason join CultureMap food editor to discuss Winnie's. Located in the former Natachee's space in Midtown, the bar-forward po' boy concept begins its soft opening this weekend.
The two worked together at Bernadine's when Laborde served as executive chef and Mason oversaw operations for the Treadsack restaurant group. After the restaurant closed, Laborde worked for Killen's Restaurants until early 2020 while Mason became the owner of Johnny's Gold Brick, the popular cocktail bar in The Heights. They teamed up with chef Chris Roy to bring Winnie's to life.
Sandler asks about how similar the concept is to Bernadine's. Laborde acknowledges that the gumbo, oysters, and certain other recipes share roots with that restaurant, but Mason notes the more casual setting dictates certain differences.
"The base sauces and breadings come from Bernadine's, but the end result is piled on a sandwich and covered with Cool Ranch Doritos," Mason says. "Back in the Bernadine's days I remember arguing how fancy should things be, this swings pretty far in the other direction. It's prepared with the same quality of ingredients and to the same standards, but we don't really have plates. And we have a lot more Doritos."
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Mary Clarkson discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the imminent closure of Golden Bagels & Coffee; Dish Society's plans to open sister concept Daily Gather in CityCentre; and the recent departure of the chefs at Brennan's and Degust.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Sandler and Clarkson discuss their recent meal at Concura Italian Bites, the new establishment that opened near River Oaks District. They find a few rustic Italian dishes not often seen in Houston restaurants.