New Houston Fare at Jonathan's The Rub Reflects Houston's Diverse Community
It's safe to say that Houston is a melting pot with a restaurant scene reflects that diversity. Chef Jonathan Levine of Jonathan's The Rub acknowledged that fact six years ago when he added the New Houston Fare section to his menu, which, to him, portrays the current Houston food scene.
Photo by Molly Dunn The Hill Country Chicken & Shrimp dish is an excellent representation of the New Houston Fare menu.
Levine comes from a New York/Northeast culinary background. He grew up eating lots of Italian food and seafood. He never thought he would be a chef or owner of a restaurant. In fact, he received an MBA and a master's degree in international studies. But, food has always been a central part of his life and he realized it was an extension of who he was. He studied different cuisines, cooking techniques and skills, and over the years has learned how to incorporate more spice and flavor to "kick up" his Northeast palate.
"I've learned how to kick it up Texas-style, Louisiana-style, and it's reflected on the menus, especially now," Levine says. "New Houston is just that. New Houston is a compilation of what's happening in Houston; it's diverse... There's more types of different people in Houston than anywhere else. When I see people coming through the door and I see people on the streets, it makes me think about what is their fare? What do they eat? What do they like? Because they are our customer base."
Photo by Molly Dunn Blackened red fish with shrimp and rice is a spicy Cajun dish at Jonathan's.
Jonathan's The Rub's main menu includes everything from Maryland crab cakes and PEI mussels to pan-seared Gulf red snapper and chicken Parmesan. The menu is an ever-changing extension of his mainstay offerings. Levine explains that when he began serving his interpretation of "new Houston" food in 2008, he saw the Houston economy, specifically with oil and gas, became more diverse, and followed suit.
"A lot of guys are talking about the pork belly craze. It's over the top for me; I don't understand it; I don't want to cook it. Ethnic food reflects who we are," Levine says. "We have a diverse menu, but we are not reinventing the wheel. It's proven tastes that people enjoy. You won't find outrageous ingredients on our menus, and you won't find weird combinations of fried oyster pork belly things that are out there. That's not what we are about."
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