First Look at Punk's Simple Southern Food

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Photo by Mai Pham
A view of the interior through the front door windows at Punk's.

Walking into Punk's Simple Southern Food, the latest of the Clark Cooper Concepts restaurants and the next door neighbor to Coppa Osteria in the Rice Village, I couldn't help but be charmed by its down-home country vibe.

Like the other restaurants in their portfolio (they also own Ibiza, Brasserie 19, Coppa Ristorante and Coppa Osteria), a large part of Punk's identity is communicated through its interior design, which embraces you with simple wooden tables, distressed aluminum chairs, wooden walls, and country-leather stools -- think country diner, but with a modern spin. The word "Southern" is emblazoned on the far back wall in a bright blue neon. Brown wooden walls and mirrored frames above the elongated wooden bar evoke the feeling of an old-time country western saloon.

Punks_hush.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
Sweet corn hushpuppies -- I wanted to eat them ALL.

Design aside, I think they had me at the sweet corn hushpuppies. Exceedingly light and fluffy, with a slight pop of texture from the corn kernels, the generous order of rounded fritters had the quality of just-fried donuts -- airy and piping hot -- with a salty-sweet flavor that was highly addictive. I plopped one, two, three, and a fourth (somewhat guiltily) in my mouth, forcing myself to push the plate away so that I could save room for some of the other things we'd planned to try.

And we had plenty on order: Deviled eggs, pimento cheese served with fresh veggie sticks, chipotle tomato butter broiled oysters, pickled shrimp and tater tots were the other starters we had that evening, all of them dishes that you might have have as part of a typical southern family meal, many of them made with executive chef Brandi Key's family recipes.

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Photo by Mai Pham
The idea is to order a lot and share: tater tots, hushpuppies, pickled shrimp, pimento cheese.

"'Punk' was Charles' nickname when he was a kid," said Key as she explained her inspiration for the menu. "He used to run around in the backwoods as a kid, then come home to a great dinner, and that's what we're trying to do with this menu."

Dishes are simply presented, often on simple white stoneware, or, in the case of the buttermilk fried chicken, on an aluminum tray. You may be tempted by other things on the menu, like pulled pork sandwich or Ma's meatloaf, but Grandma Pat's buttermilk fried chicken is the thing to get.

This story continues on the next page.

Location Info

Punk's Simple Southern

5212 Morningside, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Brasserie 19

1962 W. Gray St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Ibiza

2450 Louisiana, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Coppa Osteria

5210 Morningside Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Coppa Ristorante Italiano - CLOSED

5555 Washington, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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8 comments
Effusian
Effusian

....'cause folks in West U are way too sophisticated to eat at Cracker Barrel or Huddle House, we get another overpriced and mediocre Clark/Cooper concept.

greg.buchold
greg.buchold

I ate at Punk's last week and found the majority of the dishes were over salted (and I like salt). The fried chicken was unremarkable. The price and portions of side dishes are only appropriate for sharing. The rhubarb pie crust was odd (more appropriate for a cobbler) and its filling was not balanced between sweetness and tartness. However the pineapple upside down cake was excellent.

jimbo1126
jimbo1126

i really want to try this place, and I have no doubt the food is good, but the prices are high. The fried chicken with what you see on the tray - not including the other side dishes shown - is $21. That's steep. 

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

@greg.buchold  This is an interesting comment, as I, too have been experiencing a predilection for over-salting all over Houston. The day that I was there, however, the food was on point for me (and I am generally more sensitive to salt than most).

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@jimbo1126  

I hear you Jimbo. One thing that perpetually bothers me is that the HP fails to understand that a restaurant provides a product for a price. A description of the product is nice, but the cost of the product is pretty damn important, and $21 for fried chicken is absurd.



jimbo1126
jimbo1126

@Bruce_Are @jimbo1126  I guess among "peer" restaurants that price isn't so out of line (Liberty Kitchen 19.50, BRC 19.75, Zelko 16, Frank’s 22) but there are many places where you can get quality fried chicken and other Southern staples for a lot less.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

@jimbo1126 Actually, I made the same comment about the pricing when I was there. My guess is that the newer establishments have higher operating cost (I hear that new restaurant rents are astonomical), which partly accounts for the higher pricing structure. 

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