Chef Chat, Part 1: Greg Lowry of Bradley's Fine Diner and Funky Chicken

Categories: Chef Chat

In an article last year titled Does Houston Hate Celebrity Chefs?, we cited example after example of a celebrity chef who came to Houston only to be greeted with skepticism and indifference. Such has been the case with Bradley's Fine Diner.

Namesake chef Bradley Ogden got off on the wrong foot when he said in an interview with Eater Las Vegas that Houston was "starving for great places to eat." It was a bit of nonsense that didn't get things off on the right foot. When Bradley's Fine Diner opened, it was greeted with a big yawn. It's a beautiful restaurant, and the dishes were nice but not compelling.

The restaurant ownership recognizes the issue and has brought in a native Houston chef with a long, well-regarded history to fix things. That chef is Greg Lowry, whose résumé includes Tony's, Voice, Max's Wine Dive and Triniti. Even his education was obtained here, at the Art Institute of Houston and Culinary Institute LeNôtre. He started in pastry, making all the pastries for Tony's when many restaurants needed to be supplied. This was before the sale of La Griglia and the two Grotto locations.

Lowry is now in charge of the food at both Bradley's Fine Diner and Funky Chicken, which seems to have fared better thanks to its fast-casual concept and unique gluten-free fried chicken. He's extremely enthusiastic about tightening the ship and gearing the food to Houstonians' palates.

In part one of our Chef Chat, we'll find out his long history in Texas restaurants. Come back tomorrow for part two, where we'll find out specifically what he intends to do to bring Bradley's Fine Diner into vogue with Houstonians.

EOW: Are you from Houston?

GL: I'm about as Houstonian as you get. I was born in New York. I lived there for about a year and then we transplanted to Houston. My dad was transferred here. I think he was working with a company called Sales World at the time. They moved the family down from New York.

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Big Wins at Menu of Menus for Kevin Naderi and Radio Milano

Categories: Menu of Menus

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
The 2015 Iron Fork competition at Menu of Menus. From left to right: chefs Randy Rucker, Randy Evans and Kevin Naderi

The 13th Annual Menu of Menus at Silver Street Station was a fun, food-filled extravaganza with dozens of offerings from Houston restaurants, wineries, dessert makers and more. Participating Houston restaurants included critical favorites Songkran Thai, Andes Café, Fat Cat Creamery, DGN Factory, Garson, Latin Bites, Mala Sichuan and many, many more.

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In Its Second Year, Houston Whiskey Festival Takes Steps Forward

Photo by Joey McKeel
Former Texans offensive lineman Chester Pitts was one of the hosts. Although he's been retired some time, he is still much larger and in much better shape than me.

You may remember that I covered the inaugural Houston Whiskey Festival last year. While I enjoyed myself, learned a lot, and discovered a couple of new personal favorites, the event showed some seams, as many first-year events do, and as much as anything, I was interested in seeing if the organizers had ironed those out. (Okay, drinking the whiskey was first, but after that, seeing what the organizers learned from last year as much as anything.)

This year, the event moved from Downtown and the Julia Ideson Building (501 McKinney) to the Bayou City Event Center (9401 Knight), just off the southeast side of the Inner Loop. While I enjoyed the class and decor the Ideson Building brought as a backdrop, the Event Center was a much more suitable location and a welcome change for a number of reasons.

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Bunny Butt Petit Fours and Other Delicious Giggle-Worthy Easter Treats From Three Brothers Bakery

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Some devilish decorations on these delicious petit fours.
What's trending in Easter baked goods this year? Rabbit tushes. Bakers are eschewing traditional animal representations of Easter such as the itsy-bitsy baby chick in favor of focusing on bunny buttocks; even Pillsbury has embraced this fad.

Beloved Three Brothers Bakery has followed suit and is currently offering its own bunny butt baked goods in the form of whimsical petit fours. These incredibly light cake bites with a rich vanilla flavor are topped with a sweet hare derrière icing decorations. (Other adornments are available for those too modest to nibble on a bunny butt.)

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Try These Five Seriously Delicious Biscuits Dishes in Houston

In Pursuit of Balance: California Winemakers Take Houston by Storm

Categories: Wine Time

Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
In Pursuit of Balance co-founder, grape grower, and winemaker Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards.
Houston was literally buzzing yesterday with Californian winemakers and wine industry super stars who had come to Texas to pour their wines at the In Pursuit of Balance tasting (commonly known by its acronym IPOB).

From the morning seminars and afternoon tastings at El Parador to the late-night after party at Public Services Wine & Whisky, Houstonians -- and many Texans who had traveled here for the opportunity to taste -- interacted with some of America's best and brightest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir growers.

Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
IPOB co-founder and celebrity sommelier Rajat Parr (right) with Houstonian Natalie Vaclavik, who recently launched a new wine distribution company in Texas.
The group was formed in 2011 by legacy grape grower Jasmine Hirsch and celebrity sommelier and author Rajat Parr to champion California winemakers who embrace a leaner style of wine.

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Urban Eats Puts New Spins on the Classics That Really Work

Photos by Troy Fields
The "3 Pig Truffled Mac & Cheese" is a standout dish.

The "3 Pig Truffled Mac & Cheese" at Urban Eats is one of the best versions of the dish in Houston. The secret is a complex cheese sauce that includes Fontina, Gouda, Cheddar, Velveeta and cream cheese. Three kinds of pork join the show and turn it into a hands-down hit: bacon, pancetta (cured bacon that's not also smoked) and honey-glazed ham. There's only a small amount of white truffle oil, which thankfully allows the cheese sauce to shine. That's important, because the radiatori pasta (little ridged hunks of pasta reminiscent of radiators) is the perfect shape for capturing it.

Like a cover song, it's a good remake of a familiar tune. At Urban Eats, updated spins on the familiar are the stock-in-trade.

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This Week in Houston Food Blogs: Combination Platters and DIY Chocolate Easter Eggs

Categories: Leftovers

Photo by Kim Coffman
Urban Swank says it's hard to go wrong with Combination Plate No. 6 at Los Tios.

If you know local fried chicken expert Jay Francis, then you've probably also been breathlessly awaiting his list of church-sponsored fried chicken picnics across Texas. (Well, maybe you haven't, but we certainly have.) Air up the tires, check the oil and get ready to go on some delicious road trips.

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Up-and-Coming Houston Chefs: Meet Five of the Youngest at the Center of Their Kitchens

There are no boring chefs. The very nature of the business demands creativity tempered with a heaping spoonful of practicality. Successful chefs don't just learn how to be good cooks. They must also become teachers, managers, leaders, accountants and diplomats.

They also live in a tightly interwoven community. We interviewed five of the Houston area's youngest executive chefs. The oldest is 34 and the youngest two are 28. A pair of old friends traveled along the same path for a time before their roads diverged. Two others started their careers together, with one ending up the executive chef at a restaurant the other had left years before.

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Historic Wunsche Bros. Cafe Damaged in Fire

Categories: Breaking News

Photo by Lars Plougmann via Flickr Creative Commons
Wunche Bros., originally established in 1902 as a hotel and saloon, was damaged by fire early Sunday morning.

A fire at beloved Old Town Spring restaurant Wunsche Bros. Cafe & Saloon destroyed a substantial part of the building. According to television station KPRC, firefighters were called about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

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