That's Not Kosher

The Surprisingly Successful Marriage of Cheese and Seafood in Houston

There's more to it than just lobster-topped mac 'n' cheese.

By Joanna O'Leary May 8, 2014

The crab and gouda grilled cheese at Petrol Station is an ideal marriage of seafood and dairy.

When poaching salmon, broiling swordfish, or dressing oysters for dinner, the thought Man, I gotta choose the perfect cheese to serve with this stuff is probably not the first (or even the second or third) thought that comes to mind. 

Maybe it should be. Solid dairy and seafood may at first seem incongruous paired together in the same dish (and G-d knows you don’t want to serve your kosher guests crabs drenched in cheddar) but that’s not the case in practice and certainly not at Houston restaurants. And I’m not just talking about tuna melts.

Bar Boheme was primarily known as a reliable watering hole until it stumbled upon the absolute genius idea of topping its already noteworthy pizzas with lobster. Now, you'll find people pairing the bar’s famous frozen mojitos with slices of lobster-laden flatbread pizza. Chef Rishi Singh offers two versions of the lobster pie: one with lobster surrounded by mozzarella, green peas, and pancetta and another sporting lobster, goat cheese, pesto, arugula, and onion.

The macaroni and cheese innovators at Jus’ Mac have similarly gone the way of all shellfish, offering a spicy crab macaroni and cheese as a Friday special. It’s quite lovely and more affordable (though far less decadent) than Kata Robata’s famous miso lobster macaroni and cheese made with marieke gouda, Veldhuizen cheddar, and panko bread crumbs.

The Baked Oysters Dan at Danton's are topped with parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and lump crabmeat.

It’s also hard to imagine a Wendy’s or MacDonald’s fried fish filet sandwich without its requisite topping of tartar sauce and a slice of American cheese.  Sandwiches coupling cheese and fish, however, don’t just appear on the fluorescent menus of Houston’s fast food restaurants, but also at establishments like Central Market, where smoked salmon is stacked with swiss cheese and red onion on sourdough, or at Petrol Station, whose crab and gouda grilled cheese sandwich is wonderful to nosh on in between pints of double IPA.

Dispelling the notion that oyster are par excellence consume on the half shell with minimal accoutrements, Danton’s offers some of the best Oysters Rockefeller (spinach, shallots, Monterey jack cheese) in town as well as their own Baked Oysters Dan, topped with parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and lump crabmeat.

And, finally, my personal favorite, very familiar example that cheese and fish can be loving bedfellows: crab rangoon, those delectable fried wontons stuffed with crab meat and cream cheese found in the appetizer section of most any Houston American Chinese restaurant menu.

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