In the restaurant world, “family meal” is the food served to a restaurant’s staff prior to a shift. Not every restaurant offers one, but the food at those that do — usually an improvised dish prepared by cooks who want to impress their coworkers — can be really outstanding.
That’s the other thing about family meal. Members of the dining public almost never get to experience the dishes, but a Houston restaurant veterans wants the spirit of family meal to guide his new project.
At Elliot’s Table, a new restaurant in the Heights-adjacent neighborhood of Cottage Grove, chef-owner Elliot Roddy has created an eclectic menu of dishes inspired by his stints both cooking and/or managing at restaurants ranging from LA Bar at Ragin Cajun and Pesce to Bramble and more. His time as the general manager of Pinkerton’s Barbecue inspired the spirit of the 30-seat neighborhood restaurant he just opened in the former Papa Mo’s Deli’s on T.C. Jester.
“We started cooked on Mondays [a day the restaurant was closed] at my house. I invited all the staff. We called it family meal,” Roddy tells CultureMap. “Most of the time, we wound up drinking too much and having too much fun. Now it’s come a long way. We want to connect people with good, locally sourced, sustainable products and not put a bunch of artificial ingredients in there.”
That ethos translates into fruits, vegetables, and herbs from Old School Produce, a Houston-based provider that specializes in growing hard to find varieties, as well as steaks from 44 Farms and breads from Cake & Bacon. Since Roddy focuses on savory, his desserts come from local baker JodyCakes.
Those ingredients find their way into an eclectic range of dishes inspired by Roddy’s favorites from different stops at his career. Roasted Gulf oysters with chorizo take their inspiration from Roddy’s time at LA Bar. Cucumber and tomato salad with deviled egg yolk utilizes a recipe from Southern Goods, Lyle Bento’s shuttered Heights restaurant. “Claudia’s mole” is a Oaxacan-style version of the classic dish that’s named after the woman who makes it, the restaurant’s AM prep cook.
Burgers, topped with either bleu cheese or cheddar, arrive properly medium rare (if requested). A fried turkey sandwich, topped with homemade ranch, bacon, and arugula, delivers a flavorful riff on the classic club.
The restaurant’s staff adds to the space’s personal feel. Sous chef Matt Crow is one of Roddy’s closest friends and a family meal regular. Front of house staffers Max Hartman and Eric Belmarez worked with Roddy previously and bring a passion for wine and beer to their roles.
“Max, Eric, and Matt Crow, no way I could do it without those three guys,” Roddy says. “They make it fun. They make it worth it. We have the mentality of everyone does everyone’s job.”
Currently, the restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday. Limited lunch service is also in the plans once things are dialed in and when Roddy can find the right employees to staff it. According to him, the restaurant has started to find an audience.
“So far the neighborhood loves us, and we’re going to keep driving ourselves to give the neighborhood what they want. That’s our goal is to service them,” Roddy says.
Elliot's Table; 465 T.C. Jester Blvd.; 713-485-0340; Wednesday through Saturday 5 pm to 10 pm, Sunday 11 am to 6 pm