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Chefy bits at Beaver’s

Much like Robb Walsh I have been spending a bit of time at Beaver’s lately.  Since Jonathan Jones took over kitchen I find myself going to Beaver’s on regular basis as the food gets better and better.

The best bets at Beaver’s are on the blackboard, where the specials are often more interesting than the regular menu, though these days even the regular menu seems better and more consistent. One night when I went a little overboard with the specials JJ appeared from the kitchen with a BBQ sampler, obviously excited about the results he has been getting from the smoker, just to see how far he could push me.

The BBQ, a letdown in the past, was excellent.  It didn’t hurt that JJ coughed up the awesome burnt bits of the brisket off the fatty end that chefs and pit masters usually hoard of themselves.

The roasted oysters and chorizo were served with a flaming center piece reminiscent of the dramatic presentations at America’s. I like fire.

The main course was an enormous plate of whole roasted pig accented with lemon foam served on top of polenta cakes. Knowing that I’ll eat just about anything put in front of me the fork tender cuts of shoulder that had the most meat were served complete with a trotter and a tail (the snout was snagged by some guy who came in before me), which produced some great bits of cartilage and skin.

It may seem strange to find a foam application in a place like Beaver’s, but its a great example of how a subtle progressive touch can enhance something as down to earth as a roasted pig in the right hands. Aside from delivering the flavor the foam kept the skin crisp and were it served with a bit lighter hand would have been a perfect contrast to the fatty cuts of pork.

The dessert showed yet more progressive technique and ended up being one of my favorite courses of the night. The deconstructed buttermilk panna cotta was less sweet and felt more rustic than the Italian original, but it was the powdered peanut butter that really sent the dish over the top.

Beaver’s is still a work in progress and not everything is always firing on all cylinders. My wife is addicted to the reformulated nut burger. The more carnivore focused burger is pretty good too, but it’s served on a tasteless bun that resembles the awful bread Monica Pope loves to serve at t’afia. I wish they would do something with the weak macaroni and cheese too, but on the balance Beaver’s in better than ever and is finally becoming a fun place to be any day of the week.

The staff at Beaver’s appears to be having fun too. I don’t know if this Beaver’s standard training, but they seem to engage in conversation freely, often sitting down to take the order or explain some of the menu options. One night, while trying to explain to my wife the absurdity of going to a New Kids on the Block reunion tour, I tried to recruit the waitress to support my argument. My assumption was that with pierced eyebrows and a slightly edgy look she spent her youth listening to Joy Division or the Cure. The bill arrived with this endorsement instead:

Brunch at Beaver’s can be a ton of fun too. I am the worlds most pathetic drinker, but even I couldn’t refuse the Squealing Mary made with bacon infused vodka, rimmed with bacon salt and finished with… a slice of bacon.

Beaver’s may have gotten off to a rocky start, but it seems to be really coming into it’s own. I like that Jonathan Jones has the stones to use modern technique and like that he knows when to put it aside even more. I like that the food is finally going beyond BBQ to pursue broader Gulf Coast cuisine, too. Houston has never been a great BBQ city anyway, but we do seem to do the best job of blending Texas, Louisiana and Mexican culinary traditions into one.

Next up – Cochon. One of my favorite restaurants and a spiritual cousin to Beaver’s.

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