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Important hotel restaurant gets a new chef who shakes things up with new menus — and enhanced tea

Important Houston hotel restaurant gets new chef who shakes things up

Ristorante Cavour JohnMichael Lynch
Meet JohnMichael Lynch, the new executive chef at Ristorante Cavour. Courtesy photo

One of Houston's most well-regarded hotel restaurants has a new chef. Ristorante Cavour at the Hotel Granduca in Uptown Park tapped chef JohnMichael Lynch to lead its kitchen.

Known for serving Northern Italian food, the restaurant's luxurious atmosphere provides an intimate space for both locals and travelers who are seeking a fine dining destination.

After working at a country clubs in Maryland and Atlanta, Lynch says the Granduca's diverse offerings appealed to him. "It's not a big operation, but it has a lot of different aspects. You have the bar, veranda, room service and the fine-dining restaurant. The Northern Italian aspect I really connected with."

 Classics remain, but Lynch has brought a new focus on seasonality and local produce. 

Although Lynch has been on board since the end of July, the hotel only made his presence known last week. "In the first couple months I didn’t want to change anything, because we had some changes in the staff," Lynch tells CultureMap. "The most important thing was getting the best quality product and making sure people were trained. Then we started to change the menu items."

Classics like osso bucco and caprese salad remain, but Lynch has brought a new focus on seasonality and local produce to the restaurant.

"Everything else has been changed to have some influence from me," he says. That includes a new, four-course tasting menu that changes from week to week based on available produce. 

The chef brings a simple philosophy to his cooking. "Everything is simply prepared, but I feel if something is simple it should be the best it can be," Lynch says. "We have a seared branzino dish with olive-stuffed artichokes and a basil lemon sauce. It’s simple but all the preparations are done properly. Everything works to complement the fish."

Afternoon tea has also been enhanced with new sandwiches that are all served on breads baked in house. So far, Lynch says the Granduca's patrons are pleased with the changes.

"Everybody has really appreciated the freshness."