Sunday, August 30, 2015

Table 57 at HEB: raising the bar for casual dining in Houston

Table 57@ HEB
5895 San Felipe, Houston 77057
Open daily for lunch and dinner; brunch on Sundays
Take out 

By Jane Feehan

It takes a bit of will power to grab a cart to shop for dinner at HEB when you know about Table 57, a casual restaurant with a beer and wine bar on the premises.  

Counter-order service may belie what’s ahead at this grocer-operated eatery: a hit parade of barbecued turkey, brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs, chicken and other smoked Texas specialties or bistro-style sandwiches, spicy tostadas, classic salads, traditional or trendy burgers, prime beef sliders with brie, Korean fried chicken and an array of interesting palate pleasers.

There’s not much to describe as casual about the food. Take for example, a simple turkey burger. They transform it into majestic kitchen art. It’s delivered with an avocado kale mash, grilled red onion, solegiatti (slightly dried) tomatoes, feta, arugula and sunflower sprouts. Match it up (or not) with a side of sweet potato fries, eye-popping onion rings, the more exotic Tare-grilled okra, or German-style red cabbage and you’ll be talking about this meal for weeks.  

For more out-of-the-ordinary, there’s Korean Fried Chicken, a crispy fried half bird with a mild chili
Korean Fried Chicken
glaze, plated with kimchi mash and Asian braised greens. Sample Tuscan-grilled tuna atop cannellini beans and greens or the spinach, avocado and grapefruit salad. These dishes make it tough to believe this is grocery store dining.
Table 57 (named for the zip code in its address), offers barbeque by the plate or pound, smoked “with Texas Post oak for up to 13 hours,” a daily butcher’s cut featured on a chalk board at the counter, and small bites such as deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, fresh lobster salad or crispy Brussels sprouts. A hearty local beer or a decent wine is available to drink at the bar or to savor at a table.

Staff delivers food promptly, even during busy weekday lunch hours, and they get orders right. Several times I’ve asked them to omit an ingredient and each time it came as requested. The bar proves to be a friendly place to dine or to meet neighbors and new friends—despite uncomfortable bar stools and their struggle to pour even a half glass measure of wine (my only criticisms but it could be they don't want people to linger long). A live music lineup Friday evenings keeps the outdoor patio filled and patrons dancing.

With great food that includes mouth-watering desserts such as Texas Pecan Bread Pudding or Tres Leches, and a kids menu of hot dogs, mac n’ cheese, and chicken tenders, there’s little wonder so many would-be HEB shoppers never get past Table 57 …

Tags: HEB Grocery, Houston restaurants, Texas smoked barbeque, takeout food Houston Galleria. Tare-grilled, vegetarian-friendly in Houston

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