Thursday, December 18, 2014

60 Degrees Mastercrafted – Pretense does not live here!

How disappointing is it when you arrive at a new restaurant and find that the atmosphere is far too pretentious? Unfortunately, I believe this is all too often the norm when we seek a fine dining experience. After all haute cuisine often goes hand in hand with haute atmosphere. The antithesis of this phenomenon is quite noticeable upon crossing the threshold into Austrian born Certified Master Chef Fritz Gitschner’s 60 Degrees Mastercrafted. 

The staff at 60 Degrees Mastercrafted are ever so hospitable, passionate and committed to making your dining experience something extraordinary.
This beautiful painting graces one of the walls as you enter the restaurant. 
The comfortable decor is modern Texana and it is obvious that great attention has been paid to every detail. This kind of inviting atmosphere does not create itself and even though the classically trained chef, doesn't classify his "ranch to table" outpost as fine dining, 60 Degrees delivers on every level, from ambiance to food.  Chef Fritz’s pedigree is quite impressive. Only 65 individuals hold the title of Certified Master Chef in the U.S. and Chef Fritz is one of them. 

With a menu that encompasses Chicken Schnitzel, Honey Brined Duck Breast, Gulf Seafood Cioppino along with several  treatments of Akaushi beef, my dining companion and fellow foodie Lavada Golden Varner and I quickly realized that one visit would clearly not be enough to get a complete taste of this restaurant. However, we did our best to sample what we could on this trip. 
Pork Belly grilled asian braised, satay sauce, kimchi vegetable slaw, lotus chips
We embarked on our culinary journey across Chef Fritz's menu with a tasting of several starters. I'd already had the pleasure of sampling the Tejas Chili, which has made its way onto my 'what I might want to have as a last meal" list. The tender Akaushi beef chunks melt in your mouth. Akashi beef in chili you ask? This is the only type of beef served at 60 Degrees Mastercrafted. 
Faux Dove grilled akaushi bacon wrapped chicken breast, stuffed with jack cheese and jalapenos, prickly pear barbecue sauce
Though I'm not usually a big fan, the glorification of pork belly continues across the dining scene in Houston. That being said, the pork belly here was impeccable. The asian treatment is truly inspirational and the satay sauce was a perfect accompaniment to the lean pork, all making for a perfect bite. 

The "Faux Dove" is another "do not miss". This bacon wrapped chicken breast stuffed with jack cheese and jalapeño, served with a smear of tasty thick barbecue sauce is nothing if not completely comforting. 

A couple of lighter starters also made their way on to our table. The Seafood Campenchana, bursting with fresh from the sea shrimp and lump crabmeat, delivered a clean bright taste.  

Salmon Sampler Smoked salmon, salmon pastrami, pickled red onion, capers, eggs, pretzel sticks

The Salmon Sampler was also noticeably fresh. Both the smoked, and pastrami salmon delivered on flavor along with a firm texture. The accompanying pickled onion, capers, and mild sauce played well with both types of salmon. 

A sampling of the starter menu might just be the best way to experience 60 Degrees being that there is a plethora of small and medium plates from which to choose. 
Our server Robert prepares to carve the main course - Cowboy Steak 30 oz, bone-in rib eye. 
Lavada and I however were "in it to win it", so we braved forward and ordered the Cowboy Steak for two, a 30 ounce bone in rib eye steak served with a chili corn sauce and avocado relish. 
Accoutrements for the Cowboy Steak 
The beef was juicy and melt in your mouth tender and would have stood well on it's own, however Chef Fritz being classically trained as he is, delivered three more sauces including a Bordelaise sauce, a Bernaise sauce and a melted butter steak sauce. 
Mixed Vegetables
Fork smashed potatoes with crispy onions
Let's not forget the side dishes. The fresh vegetables literally tasted as if they had just been harvested for our table and were well seasoned with fresh herbs. The fork mashed potatoes topped with shoestring fried onions were creamy and buttery. 

Slice of Heaven Cake
Finally, we tasted two desserts. The Slice of heaven cake, a recipe from Chef Fritz's mother has earned it's name for a reason. The angel food cake, meringue and homemade strawberry preserves with whipped cream and basil chips all come together as if to envelop your tastebuds in a creamy dream. 

Milk chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Mousse
And finally the Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Mousse  topped with a thick chocolate ganache and perfectly segmented Tahitian vanilla glazed orange supremes packed a wonderful and unexpected crunch that was so good, I made a mental note to find out whether I could order this as  as a full sized dessert for my birthday. 

By the end of our meal Lavada and I had to be wheeled to our cars by the cheerful staff and accommodating valets. Chef Fritz has quickly ascended the ranks in my book of most famous Austrians. 

60 Degrees Mastercrafted is a restaurant that leaves you wanting more. More of what you've already discovered is fabulous and the insatiable desire to try what you've not had yet. In the words of another famous Austrian... "I'll be back". 

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