Here at CultureMap, we know our coverage tends to trend toward inner-loopers. But for those readers who work and live in or around the energy corridor, we've discovered a gem in Rattan Pan-Asian Bistro.
The food speaks for itself, so we'll let the foodies attest to that (although we can't help but give a shout out to the off-menu but oft-on-speical 72-hour, melt-in-your-mouth braised short ribs); we're here to talk drinks.
Although the cocktail list is not nearly as extensive as the wine selection (think eight to 10 cocktails compared with more than 120 bottles, nearly 50 by-the-glass options and 14 flights — but we'll get to that), what's there is diverse enough to satisfy any spirit palate while still complementing the pan-asian cuisine.
Although the list is vodka heavy (Japanese distiller Kissui being the brand of choice), there is a spicy ginger margarita that is at once strong and surprisingly light, with a hefty ginger kick from Thai chile. The Herb Garden, made with Citron, lemon juice, cilantro, mint and basil is akin to an Asian mojito, although not so sweet. Our favorite of the night, however, was the white Sangria, made with sake, dry white wine, brandy, lychee syrup and fresh fruit, including an unexpected tartness from green apple.
The Enomatic is a great system for beginners, owner Ron Chen says, because customers don't have to be scared to try something adventurous.
Whiskey makes a cameo, too, in the Big Brown, which incorporates Jack Daniels, Clementine juice and lemon juice for a drink that might pair well with the above-mentioned short ribs.
One of the highlights for a girl of my tastes is the breadth of Malbec options — which range from $30 bottles into the $250 range — some of the nicer of which can be enjoyed by the glass thanks to the inventive Enomatic wine system, which uses argon gas to preserve open bottles as if they're uncorked.
The system has room for 40 bottles, and uses argon gas instead of nitrogen so as not to disturb the taste and because argon is heavier than air, so it sucks away any oxygen. To illustrate the advantage of such a system when it comes to serving high-caliber wine by the glass, owner Ron Chen says he's been pouring a 2006 Silver Oak cabernet for $19 per glass when a bottle sells wholesale for around $75 and retails for closer to $120. It's a great system for beginners, Chen says, because customers don't have to be scared to try something adventurous.
And if a certain chain with an Upper Kirby locale tells you they're the first to employ the system, don't believe them. Inside the loop, maybe, but Chen says he actually gave them the contact to get the shiny system installed.
Rattan is located in the heart of the Energy Corridor at 1396 Eldridge Parkway and is open Monday though Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Happy hour runs from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends (yes, happy hour extends to Saturday) from noon to 4 p.m. with $5 wines by the glass, $2 sake and $2 off any cocktail.