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The dining room at Shade is appropriately dimly lit.

In a city where barbecue is boss, it sometimes takes a little extra pizzazz for seafood dishes to catch our attention. But with a plethora of varieties of fish found all over the globe, fish can be just as exciting of a protein to indulge in as beef, chicken or pork. This week we go beyond the norm and explore flounder as the star ingredient of the season. A favorite for its mild flavor and firm, white meat, this high-protein fish is a popular choice for Houston foodies.

There are a great many types of flounder found in the sea, from the Gulf flounder to the summer flounder and even the European flounder. Most often found nestling at the bottom of the Western Atlantic, the fish has the ability to change color and pattern and camouflages itself to protect against potential dangers. With a lifespan of up to 20 years, a flounder can grow to 20 inches in length and up to 25 pounds in weight.

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On a bed of bold Southern ingredients, the blackened flounder is a mouthwatering dish to enjoy at Shade in the Heights.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Though seemingly not as popular as salmon or tuna—I myself can't remember the last time I picked up a flounder at the supermarket—the fish is a low-calorie, low-mercury option. The hearty white meat holds up in most dishes and makes for a fantastic base for other bold ingredients. At Shade, the blackened flounder is prepared in a colorful way with jumbo lump crab meat, bacon, okra, and fingerling potato hash served with juicy roasted tomatoes and buttermilk chive dressing. Zesty and flavorful, the dish is daring with its ingredients and unlike any other in the city. The hearty Southern elements only compliment the tender fish and offer diners a mouthwatering meal worth coming back for.

Located on popular W. 19th St. in the Heights, Shade is a favorite among locals for its farm-fresh dishes, dog-friendly patio and laid-back vibe. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, the menu features American fare with both protein-heavy and vegetarian-friendly choices. In addition to the delicious flounder, other menu items include summer vegetable farro and a grilled pork chop from Black Hill Ranch. Weekend brunch, complete with mimosas and cocktails, is often a precursor for window shopping or bike riding through the Heights.

The famous blackened flounder is available on the Houston Restaurant Weeks dinner menu at Shade, along with two other courses for $35. As this is the last week to enjoy HRW, I recommend making a visit to Shade to indulge in this week's star ingredient of the season as you've never tasted it before.

Shade, 250 W. 19th St., 713-863-7500, shadeandcanopy.com/Shade

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