Chef Chat, Part 3: Michael Kramer of The Tasting Room
This week we have been chatting with Chef Michael Kramer, who has trained with some of the biggest names in the business, from Wolfgang Puck at Spago to Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek. He brings his years of experience to both the River Oaks Tasting Room location and the Uptown Park location, where he whipped up a few of the dishes that will be on the menu at the newest Tasting Room location in CityCentre, set to open February 16.
The meal started out lightly with a refreshing crudo of grouper. The fish was delicate, fresh and perfectly sliced. Topped with citrusy orange segments, rich olive oil, spicy Serrano peppers, colorful pomegranate, a crunchy sprinkling of sea salt, and mouth-puckering lemon vinegar, the dish was a veritable amusement park for my taste buds. It was fun to try out various combinations of flavors, each of which imparted a unique taste to the dish.
Next out was a fork-tender entrée of beef short ribs. The meat looked sturdy enough, but collapsed into a puddle of melt-in-your-mouth savory heaven when gently eased apart with my utensil. Served on a delicate bed of emerald-green sautéed spinach, and topped with a zesty, mouth-freshening truffled frisee salad, it was an entrée that satisfied, but did not uncomfortably stuff one's stomach; which worked out perfectly in terms of dessert.
An elegantly plated slice of densely crunchy pistachio almond cake was accompanied by truffled honey and a soft cloud of freshly whipped cream. The cake was intentionally on the dry side, allowing for maximum soakage of honey and cream. Though I tried to be ladylike, I could not help but tear off pieces of cake and saturate them with the sticky amber liquid and then eat the messy morsels straight from my fingers.
One of Chef Kramer's business partners, Ludovic Poirier, was kind enough to give me a tour of the as-yet unfinished new City Centre location, and it's an intriguing space. First, it's huge. This location will have more of a restaurant feel with a host stand and with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Much of the indoor seating is devoted to counter space, which is perfect for small parties, including individual diners looking for a good meal paired with a nice wine. There will be several options for luxurious private rooms, as well. The outdoor seating will be shaded and has the option of being covered and/ or heated in inclement weather. And of course, there's the new pizza oven, which is reason enough for me to eagerly anticipate the grand opening.