Nestled in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, Lucille’s opened its door 4 years ago with Chef and Owner Chris Williams and his brother Ben at the helm.Their mission when they opened the restaurant was to bring traditional southern cuisine into the 21st century with a unique style all their own.
When Chris and Ben were looking for a space for their restaurant, they found the 1923 bungalow. They knew that naming it after their great-grandmother Lucille B. Smith and using some of her classic recipes was the way to go. Fast forward 4 years and Lucille’s Old School Chili Biscuits are still a menu favorite. The petite yeast rolls are topped with chili, brown beans, dark chocolate and cheddar cheese – a great way to start your meal.
The Fried Green Tomatoes are also fantastic and a good sign that what is going on in the kitchen is working well. It is easy for this southern food classic to become gummy or over fried, but not in this case. The tomatoes have just the right crunch and paired with spicy aioli and goat cheese – they are perfection. The Southern Hummus and Roots is another great menu option and a unique take on traditional chickpea hummus we are all used to. Black eyed pea hummus with shaved root vegetables and cumin vinaigrette work well together to make this dish tasty and light.
After sampling the above three menu items, I could have gone home a happy and well satisfied camper, but Chef De Cuisine Khang Hoang had a different idea in mind. Hoang has been with Lucille’s since the beginning and his training and background adds an unexpected twist to many menu items. The Saigon Shrimp is a perfect example of his influence in the kitchen. The head-on Gulf Shrimp is charred on the grill and served with citrus slaw and lime. It is a tasty dish with an unexpected crunch that Chef Khang came up with after traveling to Southeast Asia. The Miso Quail is a new addition to the menu, and is served with collard green kimchi, serrano cheddar grits and a miso sauce. The combination of all the flavors is not only unique, but also very delicious.
Lucille’s has a great combination of vegetarian and even vegan dishes (you must try the Roasted Butternut Squash with roasted pumpkins seeds, pictured above), but also hearty meat dishes like the Bone Marrow and Oxtail plate that is as beautiful to look at as it is to taste. The oxtail is placed delicately on top of the marrow and topped with an orange peel gremolata which gives it a hint of citrus. Spread the combination on top of the buttery toasted bread and you’ve got yourself a southern classic prepared only the way Lucille’s can.
Don’t forget to sample one of the many desserts made in-house. The dessert menu is ever-changing, but always good. Don’t be afraid to ask for a pairing or suggestion from the drink menu – their bar is well stocked and the cocktails are quite flavorful.
Lucille’s is a go-to spot for lunch, dinner or a weekend brunch. You will walk away from there with a newfound appreciation for 21st century southern food. I’d say that Chef Chris and Chef Khang have accomplished their mission, and I for one can’t wait to see what they come up with next.