Friday, June 9, 2017

Houston's Star Fish Takes Seafood to a Whole New Level

Houston has been blessed with yet another new concept from Cherry Pie Hospitality. Lee Ellis and Jim Mills have managed to overwhelm my tastebuds along with most of my other senses yet again. It isn't very often when you know that certain restaurateurs are dedicated to their craft. The kind of passion that goes into every aspect of a diner's experience is obvious and such attention to detail is rare. When you listen to them talk about how they formulate recipes, procure their ingredients, and the care and techniques they employ in preparing meals for diners, you just know you're in the right spot. 

This beautiful aquarium greets you upon entering Star Fish. 
Star Fish is aesthetically cutting edge and casual at the same time. It's not a great idea to show up without a reservation. However, my dining companion and I took our chances at 8:00 PM on a Wednesday night and found the place teaming with people. Yet, there was no sense of pretense as we entered and were warmly greeted my the host staff. 

The expansive bar stocks some serious spirits. 
We were lucky to get a spot at the bar and settled in for the 30 minute wait. Time flew as we chatted and watched the bartenders handcraft some amazing looking cocktails. The aromas of the food and the drinks were intoxicating on their own. The "Celtic Kavanagh" comes complete with a freshly torched rosemary garnish. Whether you order one or not, you will appreciate the attention to detail and pyrotechnics involved in the making of the drink. 

Laurie's Old Fashioned with apricot infused bourbon.
I watched in earnest as the bartender poured two types of bitters along with an apricot infused bourbon into my glass, then enrobed a Luxardo cherry in a fresh peel of orange. It truly is a drink to be savored and just the thing to take the edge off of a long day. 

Oysters on the half shell

Once we settled in at our table we were both incredulous at what the menu had to offer. A meal could be made of appetizers alone. We decided to start with a dozen Atlantic oysters. I lifted the photo above from the Star Fish web site because honestly, neither of us thought to take a picture until there was nothing but a pile of shells left on our plate! (See below.)

Korean Style Glazed Spare Ribs
Since one of us ordered the grilled whole Gulf red snapper we were in for a bit of a wait so we managed to kill the time by ordering the Korean style glazed spare ribs. They were served with picked daikon radishes and carrots. The vegetables provided a wonderful juxtaposition to the rich just ever so sweet falling off the bone tender ribs.

Whole Gulf Red Snapper
The whole Gulf red snapper comes either fried or grilled. We ordered the grilled version, which tasted as though it was swimming in the Gulf moments before being cooked. The dish really is large enough for two to share. Once again the accompaniments were perfect. The spinach was delicious and did I mention the butter fries yet? 

Pan Roasted Halibut
The pan roasted Halibut was served with a creamy shrimp sauce and buttered rice. Another beautifully executed dish. The flavors were deep, rich and fresh. 
Butter Fries
Now back to those fries... I have to call this dish a rebirth of the potato. Fries, chips, call them what you may, are served in many ways, drowned in gravy and cheese curds, chili and cheese, etc. In some parts the world they dip their fries into more than just ketchup (mayonnaise or aioli come to mind). But how they are fried is pretty standard. We've all had fast food fries cooked in basic vegetable or canola oil. I've had them cooked in olive oil and even in duck fat. I've also had fries that are par cooked at a lower temperature and then fried a second time at a higher temperature to achieve a delicious crunch. However, Butter Fries take fries to an entirely new level. The flavor and texture of these fires is simply hedonistic. 

The list of what I can't wait to get back and try is extensive and will require several trips. I can't wait to dive into the puffy lobster tacos, pan fried crab cakes, PEI mussels, or wood grilled oysters, all items just from the appetizer menu. The shrimp and lobster soup, jumbo lump crab meat and avocado over cucumber salad, as well as the southeast Texas shrimp and andouille gumbo are literally calling me back. Pan seared diver scallops, Star fish bouillabaisse and Rohan duckling also await. It's just going to take patience and time to work my way through the menu. 

I've somewhat scratched the surface at what you can find at Star Fish, but there is something for everyone, carnivores included. I'm going to take a wild guess that even the cheeseburger would be a pretty good bet!  Explore the menu yourself here.