Robert Del Grande, Benjamin Berg to Unveil Turner's
Last year, chef Robert Del Grande and restaurateur Benjamin Berg (B&B Butcher's & Restaurant, B.B. Lemon, B.B. Italia) teamed up to reinvigorate the iconic Cafe Annie by turning it into The Annie Café and Bar. Once the Annie started buzzing again, the pair turned its attention to what was downstairs. Their efforts have resulted in Turner's, which will open with dinner service Friday in the Uptown building that also houses the Annie Café.
Turner's is positioned as a throwback to traditional social-club-style dining, where only members scored tables, and entertainment typically came along with a high-priced Continental meal inside glitzy surroundings. Think New York City's celebrated Rainbow Room, the glitzy Rockefeller Center restaurant with nightly entertainment. When he was younger, Berg—a New York native—would sometimes visit the restaurant with his mother and her friends.
"They would have real acts there, and you do the whole dinner. I remember really clearly seeing Carole King there," Berg told Houstonia. "There's something special about that and enjoyable, and it goes back to giving people an experience."
So, just like the Rainbow Room and other social clubs of the past, Turner's will have a baby grand piano at which musicians (two on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays) will perform nightly. The 1,637-square-foot space will feature gold-leaf ceilings, Ralph Lauren pinstriped walls, a black marble bar with antique glass, and plenty of dark woods and navy colors. Also look for antique chandeliers of monkey figurines, a find Berg made here in town.
But unlike those old social club restaurants, Turner's is open to the public—no memberships required.
The menu will look plenty like those old-school Continental rundowns, but Del Grande has tweaked and merged plates to create something that's a bit more adaptable for the 21st century and accessible for all diners. Look for starters like king crab terrine and buttermilk-fried quail, while heavier entrées include meatloaf and Scottish salmon "pot roast." Of course, there are big hitters like lobster Thermidor and filet mignon.
"When I sat down to really explain my vision for the aesthetic and the service, I gave (Del Grande) visuals of dishes that I thought represented it," Berg says. "He took it, and I think he's had the most fun doing this menu. He kept the ideas of richness and luxury but is still keeping it approachable."
Turner's will also have a raw bar, caviar service, hot dog service with pushcart accoutrements (Berg has a thing for gourmet dogs), a burger with raclette cheese, a rueben, and wagyu skirt steak. Table-side service is emphasized.
Beverage director Kara Slife and lead bartender Curtis Harwood have partnered to produce a cocktail lineup of stalwarts (like a screwdriver Berg says is outstanding and potent), and there will be a few barrel-aged drink options. Wines will run the gamut from the relatively inexpensive ($54) to the opulent ($1,350).
Turner's will be open for dinner at 5 p.m. Tues–Sat, with bar service starting at 4 p.m.