On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," regular co-host Mary Clarkson joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the news of the week and their recent meal at one of Houston's most exciting new restaurants, Alba Ristorante at the Hotel Granduca.
Their conversation begins with a discussion about chef Aaron Bludorn's plans to open a new restaurant in Rice Village. Sandler notes that the ability to plan a new concept only a year after opening his smash hit Bludorn restaurant demonstrates that the chef and his partners, his wife Victoria Pappas Bludorn and Bludorn general manager Cherif Mbjodi, have built a stable team that allows them to grow. For her part, Clarkson says she'd like to see a steakhouse-style concept, since Rice Village lacks anything similar.
From there, they move on to the news that Miami doughnut shop The Salty has plans to open in Montrose. Sandler expresses some excitement about the possibility of brioche, maple-bacon doughnuts, but Clarkson is more skeptical about adding another coffee shop to the neighborhood. "Brasil is beloved in Montrose . . . Then you also have Agora and Common Bond. Competition is very busy on this corner. They're going to have to stand out to separate themselves from the competition."
The news segment concludes with a discussion of Tim Drum Asian Kitchen, the Atlanta-based, pan-Asian restaurant that's opening in the Washington Corridor. Both hosts agree that the affordable, takeout-oriented restaurant could resonate with the young professionals who live in the nearby apartment complexes and townhomes.
Turning to Alba Ristorante, the two friends found quite a bit to like about the new fine dining restaurant. Sandler praises chef Maurizio Ferrarese for the deft touch he shows with the restaurant's short rib ravioli and osso bucco risotto. Clarkson admires the luxurious decor and intimate environment. In a city with relatively few true fine dining establishments, they see an opening for a new option.
"I would go back to this restaurant, and I've recommended it to friends who like this style," Clarkson says. "I love this style of restaurants, not for every day, but there is room for a concept like this."