how to end a delicious meal? put a catbird on it!

ceviche with blue crab, orange, and coco-lime broth

My friend Buster graduating from law school gave me the perfect excuse for another visit to Houston before things get too dewy down there...  And this time Carson could come!  Before leaving work on Friday, I began daydreaming about the various things we might eat upon arrival (I've come to realize that leaving just slightly early from work on Friday enables you to skip Austin rush hour-- because it's headed the other way-- and then barely skip Houston rush hour too!  Allowing you to arrive just in time for a late dinner...just the way I like dinner!)  And while I've been wanting to try out Haven and Feast (and several handfuls of other places), it came down to one must-try: Reef.

crispy skin snapper, sweet and sour chard, tomato brown butter

Basically, my rule is: whenever I am close to the ocean, seafood must be enjoyed as often as possible (Carson insisted I was going to get mercury poisoning in Seattle).  And Reef is known for having some of the best seafood in Houston.  We started off with some warm, housemade rolls with jalapeno jelly (tooo yummy: must save room!!) before our blue crab ceviche arrived.  Crab and coconut are two of my favorite things ever.  Put the two together?? There was no way I wasn't ordering that.  They weren't at all shy about the crab either, which is rare.  It was creamy, fresh, and citrusy- perfectly well balanced.

...forgot to get an interior shot because I was so overstimulated by the menu choices!

For my entree, I ordered the crispy skin snapper with sweet and sour chard and tomato brown butter.  The chard and brown butter gave way to a real earthiness and cut out any excess fishiness from the dish.  The snapper was succulent in texture and the skin was just delicious and added the right amount of salt to the whole dish.  Carson got the roasted gulf shrimp with smoked bacon and fresh lemon pepper pasta.  The shrimp was just as juicy and tender as it appears below, the pasta was a tangle of housemade goodness, and the marriage of lemon and bacon...just pure genius.  Bravo, Bryan Caswell.

roasted gulf shrimp, smoked bacon, fresh lemon pepper pasta, garlic oil 

Not only did we get the best seats in the house (in my opinion, which means we were right in front of the open kitchen so I could be nosy... and also see Caswell in action, bearing his signature orange cap), but we also got some very attentive service from our fine waiter Peter Michael.  He explained the menu with much expression and gesticulation, sort of gave Carson a mini-backrub, and presented us each with a mini "No Minors" milkshake, a scrumptious brandy/Kahlua version of the childhood favorite.  Maybe everyone gets one on their first visit, but I like to think we were special. :)

"No Minors" milkshake.. which apparently won them "Best Milkshake" in the city for the Houston Press awards

All good things must come to an end, and so we made our way out of there, full and happy, to go meet Buster.  And where do you think we ended up?  Why, Catbirds of course... wouldn't be Houston without it.