Monthly Archives: May 2012

Backstreet Cafe

Backstreet Cafe

1103 South Shepherd Drive

Houston, TX 77019

(713) 521-2239

Rating: 8

Like most Houstonians, Aaron and I try to take advantage of the two months a year when Houston’s weather is simply ravishing. Visiting our favorite sommelier,  Marc Borel, was the perfect excuse to try out Backstreet. Ask for Marc when you go there—he makes the best wine recommendations!

There’s something to be said about sitting outside in 70 degree weather under the shade of trees next to a babbling fountain. The service is fast and friendly, but our meals always end up taking at least two and a half hours simply because we love sitting there drinking our respective Chardonnays (yes I’m a middle-aged WASP now) and cocktails.

He ate: They have a pretty great wine selection, and I usually get the Road to Waco cocktail (not pictured), which is a pretty genius cocktail. Even though the one I got today was not as good as the one I got last week (obviously made by a different bartender), it was still pretty goddamn good. The first one I got was impeccable. It has bourbon, green tea, egg whites, and honey. It’s a great spring cocktail.

I also got their blackberry mojito, which is pretty good as well. You can get this by the pitcher which is kind of nice if you just want to drink a fuck ton of mojitos, sit by the fountain, slowly get wasted, and eat some good food.

She ate: I liked the blackberry mojito was good as well, but a little too tart for me. I LOVED my Landmark chardonnay. It was buttery, moderately priced, and perfect for the first morning alcohol.

He ate: Let me talk about what I got the first time we were here really quick. I got the lobster sandwich on brioche roll. It was good, but since we came on a weekday for lunch, it was a totally different atmosphere. They were in lunch mode, which is make nice food, make it quickly, get it to you, and get it out. Places during lunch have a different approach, the food taste different, and sometimes they have different chefs. It was a solid sandwich, but not amazing.

The second time we were here I got the duck spring rolls, which I super liked. Amy didn’t like them so much. They were fried, which is probably why she didn’t like them. They were really greasy but in a good way—it complemented the duck very well. They were super tasty, full of flavor. I also got…some sort of waffle. Amy reminded me that they were gingerbread waffles, but I can barely remember because they didn’t taste very gingerbread-y. They were fine but not awesome.

Something cool you also get when you come for brunch is the complementary mini muffins. You get scones, a variety of berry and savory cheese mini muffins, and they’re SO good! Far and away the best free bread in the city.

Now on to the pictured artichoke cocktail. Amy ordered this off of their seasonal artichoke menu, which includes an artichoke heart eggs benedict (I wish I would’ve gotten because it sounds super interesting). This was basically like a shrimp cocktail but with artichokes. It was light, the acid was good, I liked the radishes in it (I don’t think I’ve ever had a shrimp cocktail with radishes, that was a nice touch), and went well with Amy’s wine (Landmark chardonnay).

She ate: I’m also a fan of the free mini muffins. Last weekend we couldn’t get a reservation at Backstreet Café, so we went to Brennars on the Bayou for brunch. You had to buy the muffin/scone basket there and they weren’t that much better/bigger than the free ones at Backstreet at brunch. Incidentally, the bread you get for lunch is also very tasty—chewy, soft, crusty with creamy butter on the side, of course.

I’m trying to get into artichokes…it’s my new avocado. I’m not sure why artichoke is such a phenomenon…kind of like squash blossoms. I could take it or leave it. I did really love the flavor of the entire cocktail and the crunchiness of the radishes were a nice squash, but mostly I found myself digging for avocados (mmmm creamy goodness…I am obsessed). The artichokes were perfectly soft, none of the chewy bits you sometimes find in other restaurants. I guess I just don’t get what all the hype is about, other than the fact that it’s a seasonal vegetable.

He ate: Ordering the prime rib for lunch was a mistake. It was a salted prime rib with potatoes and salad. The cut was too thin, it was super salty and super buttery. I thought it was ok. It was fine, but I shouldn’t get steak for brunch. They also had a savory crepes with gruyere and ham which I think would have been better. That’s the other great thing about Backstreet: there are so many choices, and everything is usually solid. You never get anything that’s bad, even though I didn’t love the prime rib, it was still pretty good. I never get the feeling that when I order something, they didn’t care.

She ate: I felt so bad that I made Aaron order the prime rib so I could live vicariously through him. I always wanted to order steak for breakfast, but I’m not baller enough to do so. I actually thought this steak was quite good! Steak is more than often too bland for my taste so I did not find it too salty at all. It was nice and fatty too.

He ate: Amy’s “salad” was just a huge freaking pear! It was just a huge, pregnant pear. The presentation was awesome. It tasted sort of like a parfait because it had craisins and nuts inside with some pieces of blue cheese creaminess on the side. I thought this salad was great, I liked it a lot.

She ate: I was pretty full after the wine and artichoke cocktail, so this was perfect. The pear was huge so I ended up only eating two thirds of it. I loved the warm dressing (usually on the pair but I asked for it on the side as I always do), but wish the pear had been poached in some sort of alcohol to give it more of a punch. I asked for shrimp on the side of the salad, but really I didn’t need it—I was so full after the artichoke cocktail and pear!

tl; dr: Go before the weather gets nasty, and even after the summer arrives, go for the always solid food, especially the brunch.