When a decision is made open a restaurant to celebrate area organic farmers and local organic-certified ranchers, a decision has been made to create and refine at least four complete menus every year. When Fort Bend businessman, owner, Ray Salti, made that decision in 2008, he also made the decision to bring Chef Soren Pedersen (formerly chef the Sweetwater Country Club in Sugar Land) back from Seattle where he was cooking in that mecca of local and seasonal cuisine.He opened Ray’s Gourmet Country restaurant, a slick contemporary, yet warm and friendly bar and grill in Fulshear. The restaurant is now celebrating its 3rd Anniversary. That produce that may be grown or raised locally is featured and showcased… and organic. Seafood is wild-caught and is delivered every day… and when it is gone, the servers notify diners that it is gone for the day… so those seeking seafood arrive early. By the way, part of the deal between Salti and Chef Pedersen was that the kitchen staff must be professionally trained… and all current staff have a minimum of five years experience in the kitchen.
We had made the short run to Fulshear to grab some peppered bacon from a favorite meat market there and decided to grab lunch at Ray’s. Pedersen was out on a project and we asked for the advice of Chef Denver Kao, who we asked to suggest some items from the Spring menu. Before I describe what we had for lunch, I should point out that the menu at Ray’s is one that can tempt the most sophisticated palates in Houston. Appetizers include items like Fried Duck Confit Ravioli, Organic Beef Foie Gras Sliders, Fried White Truffle Mac & Cheese and Grilled Quail.
The kitchen action is in clear view
and a “Chef’s Table” is available with reservation
Salads include interesting takes on traditional favorites such as lettuce wedges.Try an Iceberg Wedge with Applewood Bacon, Fried Tomato Skins and Bleu Cheese Dressing, or Hearts of Romaine with Poached Quail Eggs, Anchovy, Parmesan Crisps with Caesar Dressing… or for a “soup and salad”, try a 5 Mushroom Soup with Grilled Gruyere Sandwich.
Entrees include Chicken Fried Ostrich, Roasted Rack of Lamb, American Kobe New York Strip, Veal Mignon, or a Pan Seared Marinated Muscovy Duck Breast.For a serious casual beef hunger, burgers here include such “basic” ones as Seasonal Vegetable Burgers, American Kobe Beef Burgers with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese, or Organic Beef Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola Cheese.
Grilled Belgian Endive Salad
After much discussion over all of the interesting options, we launched with a salad of Grilled Belgian Endive with Candied Cashews, Pickled Red Onions, Feta Cheese and Meyer Lemon Vinaegrette.All I can really say about it is that it scored on three fronts… contrast in textures, contrast in flavors (sweet and savory) and frankly, it looked great.The quartered endive quarters had none of the slight bitterness typical of it as the grilling caramelized and sweetened them while evening out the combination of the ingredients in the salad.
Applewood Bacon Crusted Venison Medallions
I’m a venison lover (having full advantage all my life of all of the wonderful deer dishes made in Texas), so my decision was automatically to try the Applewood Bacon Crusted Venison Medallions with Black Currant Compote and Sweet Potato Wedges. This was all served atop a red wine reduction demi-glace and was cooked exactly medium rare per our specification, as when cooked to that “slight” degree was a gorgeous deep red and the thick slices of ruby-red tenderloin were only cooked enough to crisp the smoky bacon. The black currant compote complemented it beautifully. Wild game loves that, you know, farm-raised or not.
White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
Dessert is not my style for lunch, but the Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake with Candied Orange Zest description on the menu forced the issue and I caved for what I craved.With a cup of Cappuccino, the individual single-portion-sized cheese cake was really creamy and rich, with just the right swirl of tart, fresh red raspberry flavor.
Cappuccino to enjoy with dessert
I don’t think that I’m in the minority when I say that am accustomed to driving back from Fulshear with the taste of Dozier’s barbeque on my palate and this change was quite a treat, yet we still left Fulshear with plenty of bacon, jerkey and sausage from Dozier’s in the car.
Ray’s Gourmet Country is open Tuesday-Thursday from 5:00 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Dinner from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday Brunch is from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
There are cooking demonstrations and wine tastings (check the website) and live Jazz on Thursdays (Yes, I said Fulshear).