Although the bread basket is typically an afterthought in traditional restaurant settings, disappearing during the wave of low- and no-carb dining, these days many restaurants are (re)-introducing bread programs at no or minimal charge as a means of whetting the appetites of their customers. Here are some Houston establishments offering some baller bread programs.
Before you tuck into that juicy ribeye, be sure to sample Steak 48’s gratis dinner rolls, which arrive plump and piping hot to your table in a cast-iron pan. They shimmer and sparkle, thanks to a generous glaze of butter and sprinkle of sea salt, respectively, and their interior is pure pillowy white dough. As is, the dinner rolls (a pedestrian term for such superior starches) are divine, but if you add a schmear of parmesan spread, they become even more decadent.
King Ranch Texas Kitchen
Though you may be tempted to skip appetizers in favor of saving stomach space for King Ranch Texas Kitchen's chicken fried steak or tomahawk pork chop, we strongly urge you to balance your meaty mains with an order of the joint's bread trio: beer bread rolls, cornbread, and fried pretzels. The rolls are supple with a hint of hops, the mini-loaves of cornbread are mildly sweet and oh-so-moist, and the fried pretzel rods are crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and redolent of a savory baking soda brine. This tasty triptych is accompanied by a well of honey butter, and it's a steal at just $3.
What’s the best way to pregame for multiple courses of Sorrento’s luscious lobster tortellini with caviar and spaghetti with veal meatballs? Obviously, the bread! Sorrento’s bread basket is so big it requires its own porter, who rotates through the dining room to serve patrons table-side the diverse starchy contents, which include, but are not limited to, spongy focaccia squares, hearty multigrain slabs, and crunchy bread sticks.
Doris Metropolitan’s pastry chef Michal Michaeli won early rave reviews for her stellar bread service, which features rotating varieties of breadstuffs with a Mediterranean inflection (e.g., a sumptuous caramelized onion and feta spiral). Flanked by three different infused whipped butters and olive oil, this bread plate threatens to steal the show even when up against the restaurant’s gorgeous mains, like the Moroccan fish and delightfully sanguine wagyu filet. The wide acclaim garnered by the bread program recently spurred Doris’ owners to launch a free-standing bakery, which will open this spring in Rice Village.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell anyone you went to arguably Houston’s most sophisticated Indian restaurant for the bread. Just ooh and aah appropriately (and deservedly) over the pristine platings of coriander prawns and lamb shank with star anise, all the while thinking, “Damn, this is some good naan!” That, as well as other different rotis and parathas are all made each morning in-house in Musaafer’s tandoori oven. Ask your server to curate an assorted selection and be sure to taste each on its own to appreciate the flavor before using them to sop up the errant sauce from your entrées.
Regardless of whether you’re bellying up to the raw bar at Eunice for some fresh-shucked bivalves or settling in at a curricular booth for rounds of étouffée and shrimp ’n’ grits, start your shellfish extravaganza with the cornbread skillet. The mound of baked maize, browned beautifully from its slow bake in a cast-iron bed and crowned with a sweet cream butter sphere, positively begs you to cut yourself a hearty portion. Garnish your wedge with a schmear of the creamy dairy fat and try (and fail) to limit yourself to one slice.