Kill 'Em With Caviar

By Morgan Carter, Sean Kenniff, Erin Lettera, and Amelia Schwartz

By

Morgan Carter, Sean Kenniff, Erin Lettera, and Amelia Schwartz

Whether they’re splurging just accustomed to the luxe life, the Houston diner has options. Newcomer to the scene, Guard and Grace, opened in November 2019 with splashy “Millionaire Fajitas.” With a price tag of $400, the meal is comprised of wagyu, caviar, and gold-flecked tortillas. Coming back down to earth at Chef Greg Peter’s Georgia James, we sopped up the “The Georgia” caviar service, which comes with an over easy egg, toast, and Hackleback caviar. And at Rising Star Drake Leonards’ Eunice, we savored the Louisiana delicacy of Cajun caviar—roe harvested from the freshwater Atchafalaya Basin’s Choupique fish. Leonards serves the fish eggs atop burrata and pepper jelly with a side of biscuits. Several other chefs wowed us with their inventive takes on caviar. Here are our faves that incorporate caviar, and not for the sake of extravagance.         

 

Chef Felipe Riccio of Rosie Cannonball

Lemon Caviar Pasta

One of the first assignments Felipe Riccio was tasked with during his stage at three Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Moderna, Italy, was seemingly a simple one: cook a dish that represented him. The nerve wracking part? Serving it to none other than Massimo Bottura. Culling on the experiences of his upbringing in Veracruz, Mexico, Riccio presented a pasta dish inspired by the great big blue.“I grew up next to the ocean, and one of my most beautiful memories is the constantly present salinity in the air.” Bursting with flavors of the sea thanks to a briny topping of caviar, the dish finds balance with a zing from roasted Sorrento lemons. With a stamp of approval from Massimo, Riccio has since imported his lemon caviar dish to the roster of Rosie Cannonball, now featuring caviar from The Caviar Co. in San Francisco. Even if Riccio gets a little homesick, all he needs is a twirl of a fork and he’s homeward bound.

 

Martin Strayer of Nobie’s

Dilly Bread with Roe-topped Butter

 

 

 

The food there is seriously good, but Nobie’s doesn’t take itself too seriously. Chef/Owner Martin Strayer infuses his playful side into his ever-rotating menu. A prime example, the Dilly Bread. No, it isn’t named after that Bud Light commercial, but the name behind it, well, we will just let him explain. “[It] started because I’m a child and wanted to make a dill dough.” (Say it outloud.) Infused with dill, this bread comes to a head in a miniature cast iron pot. Yielding a milk-bread-like texture with a crusty exterior, it’s best finished off with a swipe through the cultured butter seasoned with everything bagel spice and a crown of smoked trout roe. A popular number, Strayer only makes 18 orders of these each night. So don’t fool around; order it and grab life by the...bread. 

 

 

 

 

Lyle Bento formerly of 1751 Sea and Bar

ALL THE CAVIAR

As the former executive chef of 1751 Sea and Bar, you could find Lyle Bento standing behind the raw bar, encouraging diners to incorporate caviar into their every bite (and sip). It starts with a delicate cube of grilled white asparagus, topped with Santa Barbara uni, Kaluga hybrid caviar, and beurre monté. Now, what better to prolong the caviar experience than with a caviar martini? “I make the dirtiest martini there is,” says Bento. Made with your gin of choice, Bento replaces olive brine with freshly ground freeze dried caviar. For dessert?: A spoon of a lightly sweet crème fraîche ice cream topped with Kaluga caviar, mint, and a squeeze of pink lemon. This is followed by more Kaluga caviar, sandwiched with dark chocolate, sea salted-wafers, which sits atop blood orange zest. Bento encourages diners to pause and let the zest’s essential oil flow through the chocolate. The one-biter is immediately followed by a sip of a 10-year old port, completing the most eggsellent and inventive caviar service in Houston—and likely anywhere else.

 

Ryan Lachaine of Riel

Pierogies with Penache

Giving voice and verve to Chef Ryan Lachaine’s menu at Riel are his Ukrainian and French-Canadian (he’s from Manitoba) roots. Such is the case with a dish that pairs the earnest and extravagant: potato-leek pierogies with beurre blanc, truffle, and caviar. In addition to his heritage, Lachaine was inspired by a meal of pelmeni he had at Kachka in Portland, Oregon, known for its caviar service, vodkas, and Russian specialties. The pierogies sell for $26 and Lachaine opts for paddlefish caviar, saying the flavor and texture go best with the beurre blanc and truffle. Guests may also indulge in Oysters Moscow with vodka, creme, and caviar at market price, or a full-on caviar service with the traditional cultured butter, egg yolk and white, chives, and buckwheat blinis for $140. Lachaine is always happy to provide “something people can ball-out on.”

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