A Triple Crown of Cuisine â€“ thatâ€™s what you find when you visit RDG + Bar Annie. Yes, three different possibilities for dining and drinking in one location â€“ each with its own superb style, sophisticated food, and trendy folks.
RDG + Bar Annie is the reincarnation of a famous Houston tradition, CafĂ© Annieâ€™s, which recently closed. Owned and operated by Chef Robert Del Grande, his newest restaurant is spacious, contemporary and hip.
Upon entering a seemingly unassuming office building, you are transported into Del Grandeâ€™s triple-threat world of creative gastronomy. The ground floor, Boulevard Lounge, is small with 30 intimate cocktail tables, where guests can enjoy wine and light bites.
A staircase takes you up to the main Del Grande empire with Bar Annie and the RDG Grille Room. Bar Annie occupies most of the space with a large bar, main dining area, and outside patio. There is even a communal dining table for those who want to sit with strangers, and perhaps make some new friends.
The fancier, table-clothed RDG Grille Room is located at the back of Bar Annie and offers an entirely different menu.
On a fast track, we were only able to sample Bar Annieâ€™s eclectic menu. Our party of three shared a selection of appetizers, salads and desserts. Two of the chefâ€™s signature dishes immediately jumped out at us. The Shrimp Meat Balls sounded appetizing and deftly delivered on their promise. These are a lighter and tastier alternative to the usual â€śmeatâ€ť meat balls. Next, we went with the Gulf Crab Beignets with Crab Spice Sauce. These consisted of delightful, fluffy, puff pastries wrapped around fresh crab. They were so good, we almost asked for a second order. But other tasty treats were on the way.
The entrĂ©e salad of Seared Yellowtail with Sesame & Spicy Ginger Dressing was fresh, healthy, and packed lots of zing. Since it was too spicy for Marilyn, who has wimpy taste buds, the two guys happily devoured it themselves.
Marilyn feasted on Fried Gulf Oysters with Green Apple Tartar Sauce, which were milder with a tasty and crunchy coat. Our last dish was the Bacon Wrapped Texas Quail with Jalapeno & Buttermilk Dressing. The combination of smoked meat and fried fowl was ultra-savory and well mated.
Although Marilyn and Dennis would have been very content (err, already full!) to end our tasting here, our host, Jeremy, insisted that he simply could not leave RDG Bar Annieâ€™s without having his favorite dessert â€“ their Chocolate Sundae with Crumbled Brownies & Marshmallow Cream. After a small sample, we understood â€“ chocolate heaven!
Of course, now that Jeremy was eating dessert, we had to have our own! Marilyn opted for the Blackberry & Cream Cheese Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream. If it sounds slightly decadent, it was â€“ but she justified it, saying, â€śBlueberries are loaded with healthy antioxidants!â€ť With way more willpower than both of them, Dennis ordered the Fresh Mixed Berries with out the CrĂ¨me Fraiche.
All their desserts are $10. Coupling them with drinks and appetizers made for a delightful repast in a convivial atmosphere. Our starters were in the $12 to $16 range. The Bar Annie menu has â€śCommunity Dishes,â€ť â€śTraditions,â€ť and â€śBar Room Plates.â€ť In its own way, the menu is attempting to redefine the casual dining experience by encouraging sharing and tasting everything.
One of the highlights of our evening was when owner Robert Del Grande came out of the kitchen over to our table. Not all the chefs weâ€™ve met seem as happy to talk as he did, pointing out the magnificent new dĂ©cor designed by his wife, and giving particular attention to the custom lighting tubes they invented. He was justifiably proud of their creations both inside the kitchen and out.
We were surprised to learn about his background. Like Marilyn, he had left a previous career as a scientist; in his case â€“ a biochemist! No wonder he knows how to mix his ingredients so well! Unlike Robert, Marilyn has trouble even locating the kitchen!
We enjoyed the ambience, presentation and flavorful tastes of RDG + Annie without lingering too long. Thatâ€™s because our progressive-style dinner was to continue over at Robert Del Grandeâ€™s other popular venue across town, The Grove. We're sure that youâ€™ll want to stay at least 3 times longer!
RDG + Bar Annie
1728 Post Oak Boulevard
Houston, TX 77056-3802