Arturo Boada’s newest restaurant has been open for a few months and has raised the bar for “neighborhood restaurants” in west Houston.
I guess there must have a lot of people in our neighborhood who go out to eat, as let’s face it… there are a lot of really good restaurants in the Tanglewood/Briargrove area of Houston. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Arturo Boada chose to open his new eatery, Arturo Boada Cuisine, on Del Monte near Voss in a small center. With his following, this low profile location took off pretty quickly less than a year ago.
Arturo Boada showing off his wood-fired oven
For over 20 years, I’ve considered Arturo to be Houston’s most creative tapas artist (A small serving of just about anything can be called a tapas, can’t it?). So, for a dinner when I couldn’t decide what cuisine I wanted, my natural “go to” guy would be a skilled general practitioner like Boada with a creative approach to a tapas evening. On a Friday night, the restaurant was crowded (around a dozen tables) and pretty loud… not bad loud, but a lot of fun electricity and intra-table chatter, like many neighborhood restaurants. I recommend going to Arturo Boada Cuisine on a weekend to enjoy the food and the ambience… NOT to have a quiet conversation.
Our server offered a special off-the-menu tapas serving of fresh Texas Gulf Coast Crab Claws in a rich marinara and it was as though he knew that we often drive to Galveston just for crab claws. These were serious jumbo blue crabs and the perfect starter, with plenty of fresh basil leaves and just a touch of peperoncino to compliment the marinara. I found myself reserving the last claw to use as a scoop for the remaining sauce before devouring it. This was not the standard lemon and butter preparation for a crab claw appetizer in many restaurants. Nothing ever seems to be “standard” in a Boada kitchen.
Camarones Henesy en Hamaca
Next were the Camarones Henesy en Hamaca. Jumbo shrimp piled atop hearts of palm, tomatoes, capers, and plantains in a soy-ginger sauce may have been the star of the evening. The creamy sauce was typical of Boada in that it was rich, yet gentle… and didn’t overpower the plump perfectly sautéed shrimp. We ordered it to share and wished we’d ordered two. I offered the last shrinp to my companion hoping she would say “No, YOU take it… it’s your birthday.” I got it.
Our next serving was not from the Tapas menu and was an obligatory order whenever it’s on a menu. Fresh Mussels are always sweet and tender and these were as fresh as I’ve had anywhere. While there were three choices of sauces for the mussels, we chose a spicy Tomatillo Jalapeno Cilantro Sauce. Totally different from the usual white wine, garlic and parsley sauces served everywhere in Houston, it was a typical Boada departure from the norm and was a tip of the hat to our Texas culinary passions. The bunch of fresh cilantro topping the mussels identified the dish immediately as a departure from the standard easy offerings in Italian restaurants everywhere.
BEEF BLUE is an offering on the Tapas menu. I don’t often see steaks offered as a tapas dish, but this 4 oz. filet was the perfect size for that. Cleverly cooked on the grill, then finished in the wood fired oven for a slight smokiness that we Texans love on a steak, it was served on a tomato slice and topped with bleu cheese and onion rings. It was a creative variation on typical steakhouse preparations allowing a taste of onion, steal and bleu cheese in each bite… and the incredibly tender steak was perfectly cooked to medium rare.
FISH TACOS were three open-faced Snapper taquitos with a Serrano garlic pepper sauce and were on tender small soft corn tortillas. What I liked about these tacos was the fact that they were main-ingredient-centric… Houston is notorious for tacos with the dressing and the garden overpowering the main ingredient. Nothing should steal the spotlight from fresh Gulf Red Snapper… and it didn’t in this dish.
Lastly, it seems that Arturo is a Facebook user and (without me telling him) knew that we were celebrating my birthday… hence the unannounced arrival of a “birthday cake” of Crème Brulee served on five spoons. The spoon presentation was his usual touch except for a birthday candle stuck in the strawberry. It was a creative presentation and the dish was wonderful… creamy and with the perfect crisply caramelized topping. This is Crème Brulee for the Crème Brulee lover (me).
While I only sampled Tapas offerings on my visit, those are a small portion of his offerings. Boada’s menu is broadly international in scope, and features full dinner and lunch entrees such as Snapper al Fresco, Grilled Sashimi Grade Tuna, Grilled Salmon, Frutti di Mare (snapper, shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari), Grilled Chicken Breast, as well as Steaks and gorgeous gourmet and traditional Italian Pizzas from the wood-fired oven.
I know we were late giving your new restaurant a try, Arturo, but welcome to the neighborhood! We’ll be back.
Arturo Boada Cuisine
6510 Del Monte
Houston, TX 77057