After a 16-month gestation period (about the same as a walrus, just FYI), the long-awaited Maverick Texas Brasserie
, the passion project of local restaurateur Pete Selig, has finally opened with Miguel Ardid as director of operations. Visually, it’s a stunner.
Contrasts are especially evident at night (brunch is scheduled to come online next, followed by lunch) when you enter into a dark and seductive space dominated by a copper-topped bar. Proceeding through the restaurant, you next come to a pleasant three-table nook nestled alongside the glassy wine storage, then emerge into a white and almost Scandinavian-sleek room bracketed by an open kitchen and outdoor seating. Decide what mood you’re in before you book.
The menu, under the direction of the talented Chris Carlson (formerly of Sandbar, Edera Osteria, Brigid), is much less dramatic in its contrasts and its reach. It’s early to be too critical, but for the record, the grilled sous-vide calamari and octopus were our favorite “shared plate” dish of the evening. Among the salads, the refreshing arugula with pickled beets might have benefitted from beets in a bigger format.
"Proteins," a term way less romantic than the setting, are served steakhouse style — you pick sauces and sides. There’s nothing especially remarkable yet about anything from the wood grill; there are steaks, salmon, a pork chop…Our mixed grill had some perfectly fine parts but arrived cool on its porcelain plate — an issue another presentation might resolve. The sautéed pork schnitzel was prodigious and perfectly crusted but dominated by a deluge of capers and a flood of lemon. Sautéed "forest-harvested” mushrooms were especially fine as an accompaniment; blackened cauliflower with turmeric and raisins came down too hard on the black side on this night.
Chocolate mousse cake, profiteroles … the dessert selection is the most brasserie-like part of the menu. The tart Tatin isn’t at all classic in its preparation, but it’s delightful regardless; a lemon tart with a dark chocolate foundation was even more appealing. But the most Maverick part of the menu may well be the wines under the direction of Joshua Thomas. As befits a brasserie, even one in Texas, it’s mostly French but also boasts hidden gems such as a Hungarian dry furmint and a marsanne from the Texas High Plains. More investigation is required.
The Maverick is open 5 to 10 p.m. daily.
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