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Culture / Foodie Events

Food Truck Wiz Takes Over a Rapidly Changing Houston Restaurant’s Kitchen

Get Ready for Eight Courses for $60

BY // 01.28.16
photography Max Burkhalter

The Durham House is no stranger to change. The Rice Military-based restaurant experienced a major transformation in 2015, which included a name change from the previous moniker — Woodrow’s Heights — and a complete renovation of the circa-1900s space. The refreshed ambience was also accompanied by a revamped menu from chef Don Schoenburg, who introduced elevated CajunC craft cuisine with dishes like beer-battered onion rings with a spicy remoulade, bayou gumbo, Muscovy duck, and one of my personal favorites, braised rabbit.

But what a difference a few months can make. Shortly after the restaurant’s debut, late in October 2015, (and mere weeks after my first dining experience at the restaurant), Schoenburg stepped down from the kitchen’s helm. Owner Raj Natarajan wasted no time finding a worthy successor.

The Durham House kitchen will now function under chef Mike McElroy, who previously helped open The Rolling Kitchen — a cajun comfort food truck from the folks at Gr8 Plate Hospitality (Paul’s Kitchen, Union Kitchen, Jax Grill). Not only is he the man behind the truck’s crispy, cheese-stuffed boudin balls, but his previous gigs include stints at locales such as D&T Drive Inn and New Orleans’ famed Commander’s Palace.

Seared Muscovy duck breast served with parsnips, seasonal vegetables and demi-glace serves as a new item on The Durham House's dinner menu.
Seared Muscovy duck breast served with parsnips, seasonal vegetables and demi-glace is a new item on The Durham House’s dinner menu.

The Durham House will continue to honor its original Cajun flair under McElroy’s menu remake, which debuts on Friday, January 29 (the date also happens to be chef McElroy’s birthday). To fête the new menu release, the restaurant will serve an eight-course tasting menu Friday and Saturday, January 30.

For $60 ($110 with beverage pairings), customers can enjoy dishes like house-made boudin, fried bone marrow and frisée, pork shank terrine topped with a poached egg and a dry-aged, grass-fed New York strip steak. The restaurant will also offer a complimentary bottle of Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Champagne or Ca’ Del Bosco Cuvee Prestige to all parties of four or more.

A new brunch menu also debuts on Sunday, January 31 and is accompanied by a five-course tasting menu ($30, $55 with pairings), which features an amuse bouche that’s a mix of Crenshaw melon and ham with honey and salt; steel cut oats topped with cold pickled grapes, basil and mint; Common Bond wheat toast topped with grilled asparagus and Meyer lemon hollandaise; smoked pork shank bruschetta served with a poached egg and Osetra Malossol caviar; and a seared, dry-aged strip loin topped with sliced tomatoes and a seasonal herb demi glace.

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