By Jim Ayres
Comfort is the ‘new trendy’ at Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors
These days, the Houston restaurant world is all about the latest see-and-be-seen hotspot. A new place opens amid deafening buzz, throngs descend, and it’s all good…until the next one opens and the crowd moves on.
I’ve written about more than a few of these places on these pages. Yet it’s so refreshing when a new restaurant opens not with a bang, but a whisper. (OK, maybe a stage whisper.) Not in the trendy River Oaks District, perhaps, but in its shadow. A neighborhood spot but with food worthy of citywide notice.
Right now, that spot is Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors. Having seen its mouthwatering Instagram, I stopped in for brunch on a recent Sunday. Let me tell you, having only been open a few weeks, the place was firing on all cylinders.
Eloise Nichols gets its name from the grandmother of the family team behind Adair Kitchen on San Felipe, as well as Skeeter’s and Los Tios. Pictures of her show a natural beauty of style and serenity.
This is an American bistro with a distinct Southern influence. The website says it best: DzThe ethos of Eloise is woven through every detail, from a thoughtful menu to an open, unrushed ambiance, much like her living room where family lingered hours after a meal was complete.”
Comfort is the name of the game at Eloise Nichols. Tables aren’t crammed together. Noise levels are lower, allowing conversation against a thoughtful soundtrack (think DzJolenedz-era Dolly Parton).
The food is amazing. I started my afternoon with the loveliest Wedge Salad I’ve ever seen. Pickled onions were a hot pink counterpoint to the lettuce, while sturdy house bacon, hard-boiled egg, and spicy peanuts mingled with a pungent green goddess to make this the queen of Houston wedge salads.
No brunch would be complete without a cocktail, and at Eloise Nichols they’re creatively mixed and served. Take my Spirit Animal. A seemingly simple mix of vodka, pineapple juice and lime, the drink was served over a snow cone-like mound of ice inside a brass pineapple. It kept the drink cold, refreshing and delicious.
Executive chef Joseph Stayshich showed his creative touch with my Buttermilk Biscuit Benedict. Sure, there were slow-poached eggs, light as a feather, but they landed atop not Canadian bacon, but kicky Texas pulled pork! The silky house made hollandaise only gilded the lily. Served with pickled green tomatoes, it was a palette of flavors on a plate.
Those same green tomatoes also adorn Eloise Nichols’ burger, a beauty made with a chewy brioche bun. Texas Shrimp and Grits is given a spicy twist with chorizo, chile broth and cilantro. Rich and heavenly.
That same dish is offered on the daily dinner menu, which also features comforts like Chicken and Dumplings, Redfish on the Half Shell, and Pastrami Pork Ribs. I want to try them all!
If you want to dine in River Oaks District, but fear the crowds, turn the corner onto shady Mid Lane and go a couple of blocks. Eloise Nichols will make sure your meal is tranquil and tasty.
Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors
2400 Mid Lane
Houston, Texas 77027