Asia Society Texas Center Jade Stone Café Definitely a Gem

Categories: Fast Times

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Photo by Christina Uticone
Soup and sandwich combo at Jade Stone Cafe.
As far as food is concerned, things really are looking up in the Museum District. Since I moved here in 2009, we've seen the Fine Art + Food Trucks exhibit open at MFAH, giving Museum District workers and employees a daily food truck option; Green Seed Vegan opened its doors just down the road at Almeda and Wheeler; the Pinewood Café opened in Hermann Park, delivering fresh wraps and decadent grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm pleased to add another delicious, if offbeat, suggestion to the list of dining spots in the Museum District: the Jade Stone Café at the Asia Society Texas Center.

I knew the TSA had a small cafe and, needing a quiet place to read, thought I would finally check it out. The building is absolutely gorgeous from the outside, and I couldn't wait to get a peek of the interior.

When I walked inside, I was greeted by almost complete silence, but it was peaceful and relaxing rather than unwelcoming and cold. After a brief visit to the front desk to pick up information on the museum and its exhibits, I went right over to the cafe -- which is just inside the entrance -- to grab lunch and work on finishing At Home by Bill Bryson. (I'm a fast reader, but I always seem to have 30 pages to go, no matter how much more I read.)

The menu is simple: soups, sandwiches, salads, and some cookies and cakes to satisfy your sweet tooth. The dining area is similarly streamlined, with just ten four-tops (but with white tablecloths, a nice touch) and a single person manning the counter. I chose a soup-and-sandwich combo: half a veggie sandwich on wheat with lemon artichoke soup. I sat down at a table, and my meal arrived in less than five minutes.

The veggie sandwich was served on a really gorgeous wheat bread, fluffy but still chewy with whole grains. Piled in between the bread were sprouts, mushrooms, sundried tomato pesto, avocado slices and lettuce. As you can see in the photo, a side of chips and Asian slaw come along for the ride. The slaw was a nice treat, well-seasoned with that great sesame oil flavor, and the carrots and cabbage still had a nice crunch through the marinade.

But the soup. OHMYGOD the soup. The soup was, in a word, outstanding. I wanted more. I wanted a gallon to take home and eat all day. I didn't expect the lemon artichoke soup to come out creamy -- I had envisioned a light, lemony broth with artichokes and maybe orzo -- but my disappointment dissipated in an instant as soon as I tasted it. Rich, but somehow still so light, and the lemon added an incredible brightness without being tart. The texture was silky, and I seriously considered licking the small paper cup the soup came in when my spoon finally hit the bottom.

This was a true treat. I can't wait to go back and try a salad. But I assure you, I'll never return without ordering soup.

The Jade Stone Café is open Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; closed on Mondays and major holidays.



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Location Info

Green Seed Vegan

2305 Wheeler, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pinewood Cafe

6104 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston

1001 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX

Category: General

Jade Stone Cafe At Asia Society

1370 Southmore Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: General


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7 comments
MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Thanks on the tip-side. My Mrs. works in mid-town and is always looking for lunch ideas. This is her kinda party. Good review, I just made a vat of escarole and turkey meatball soup but I want a cup of that lemon artichoke. Bad.

Nathan
Nathan

How is it possible to omit Lucille's when you mention the Museum District's culinary renaissance? 

katie
katie

The Asia Society has really screwed with neighborhood parking, they have a huge, empty parking lot because they charge so much.  Then everyone parks on the streets and clogs everything up.  They are not a welcome neighbor in my book.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

 @Nathan I didn't omit it. I just haven't been yet. I didn't think it fair to mention a place I haven't personally dined. Thanks for the reminder though--will move it up in my roster!

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

 @katie Austin and Southmore both look wide enough to accommodate street parking, to me. If people are parking too far from the curb or blocking a driveway, you can call to have them towed. Street parking is for all of us to use.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

 @katie I walked, so I didn't consider the parking. Excellent point for a visitor to consider.

katie
katie

 @Kylejack I am mainly taking issue with Southmore, which does have issues when cars are parked on both sides of the street, and Oakdale, which is not at all wide enough to accommodate parked cars and two-way traffic.  I do not understand the COH's haphazard parking meter plan.  The Asia Society doesn't merit meters, but one block from my residence does (and they are never used!)

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