Review: Punk's Simple Southern May Be Trying a Little Too Hard, But Don't Miss the Biscuits
As we placed our order, the server's eyes grew wider and wider, and his hand moved furiously across his notepad, attempting to keep up with our laundry list of desired appetizers. When we were finally finished, he stepped back and looked at us -- two people who had just ordered enough food to feed the Rockets' starting lineup.
Photos by Troy Fields Looking for great chicken fried steak in Houston? Look no further than Punk's Simple Southern, where the dish truly shines.
"Okay. Sounds good." He kept eyeing us as if concerned that we might be dangers to ourselves.
"We're hungry," we replied simply and sheepishly.
"Hey, man, no worries," he finally said, laughing. "When you come here to eat, you eat."
And indeed we did. Something about the country cuisine at Punk's Simple Southern invites large portions and shared platters and a feeling of being with family, even among strangers. We passed biscuits -- flaky, buttery, pillow-soft mounds of dough that might just be the best in Houston -- back and forth across the table, and even offered some to the waiter, now an accessory in our plot to eat our way though the entire menu. We double-dipped spoons into a single bowl of gumbo, thick but not quite dark or complex enough for our tastes. We took photos of each other with the chicken-fried steak, a portion larger than each of our heads, and we finished the feast with two desserts because why the heck not?
In true Southern fashion, the menu is designed for indulgence, for people watching neither their waistlines nor their wallets, for families gathered together for something like Sunday dinner any night of the week. Of course, in the heart of Houston, you won't often find the large Southern families for whom "Ma's Meatloaf" and "Grandpa Doc's Buttermilk Biscuits" are named.
Tucked into a multi-use development in Rice Village between Coppa Osteria and Cloud 10 Creamery, Punk's tends to attract a more cosmopolitan crowd in a Disneyland-like setting. More than a hearkening back to the simple family meals shared around outdoor picnic tables in the Deep South, Punk's is a theme restaurant, and one that captures that Southern charm well, if inauthentically.
Food is served on aluminum trays or coated metal plates in lieu of china, and chic mason jars stand in for glasses at the bar. There's just something a little too kitschy about the country decor and dishes like "Grandma Pat's Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken" for me to be completely sold on the Punk's idea. It may be Southern, but there's little soul in the menu, aside from the names of some of the dishes, which only add to the silliness of the place.
It isn't all that simple, either, since everything from the biscuits to the restaurant itself is served with a bit of flair.
And who is this Punk character, anyway?