Weekends are pretty busy at the new Masraff's, now located off I-10 at Bunker Hill in Memorial, but weekdays are a little more challenging.
"Weekdays—it's always been the expense card crowd, and they're not here," says Russell Masraff, co-owner with his father, Tony. He laughs. "We could really use oil right now."
Masraff's, along with so many other restaurants in Houston, has been deeply impacted by Covid-19. It's not just the smaller dining room, the pivot to takeout and delivery, the increased safety protocols, or the loss of human connection that have posed challenges, but it's also the lack of regular and once-expected customers—the weekend evening date nights, the larger groups celebrating big events, and the corporate managers and directors who bill pricey lunches to their accounts.
On top of all that, Covid-19 happened just as Tony and Russell Masraff were preparing an April move to Memorial. What would've been a seamless transition from Post Oak Boulevard to I-10 became a multi-month slog. With so much uncertainty in the present, the father and son figured there was no better time than now to change everything up.
So, when you walk into the new Masraff's, located at 9655 Katy Fwy, you'll find a more classic-looking space with a front bar separate from the main dining area, plus an entirely new menu. Only the popular garlic-seared calamari made the move from the old menu.
New starters include a delicious wagyu meatball in a smoked squash ragout and served with Parmesan Reggiano polenta, plus a whole lot of chopped lump crab on brioche, with avocado mousse and tomatoes. Also find a hefty wedge salad, with black pepper bacon and blue cheese, and a raw bar that includes cold Prince Edward Island mussels poached in lemongrass and coconut and served with ginger miso vinaigrette.
Masraff's keeps a selection of steaks and chops, like 14-ounce bone-in filet mignon and 14-ounce prime New York strip. Entrées run the gamut from Gulf-focused (red snapper with sun-dried tomato and pine nut risotto), to perfect for an upstate New York winter's night (duck breast with duck fat potatoes, all topped with Hudson Valley foie gras and served in rich cognac sauce). My recommendation is the decadent Maine lobster served with squid ink risotto and maitake mushrooms. Sides like saffron lobster grits and vinaigrette-kissed brussels sprouts help round out meals.
An all-new dessert list is headlined by a play on bananas foster with banana cream, crispier slices, and phyllo pastry. The bottled wine selection is deep and varies from a few offerings under $100 to a couple heavier hitters.
It's certainly worth it to take a look at the new Masraff's, but don't think you need to spend big bucks. Heck, a meatball and a glass of wine makes for a perfect weekday lunch.