There’s some good food emanating from the kitchen of a new restaurant in Friendswood, a community a short drive south of Houston that’s a locale in need of just that. Kris Jakob (formerly of Kris Bistro) has assembled a well-oiled machine — including Jason Seo in the front of the house and fellow chef Christian Echterbille — at Brasserie 1895, and the several evenings I’ve spent there thus far leave me confident I’ll return to the comfortable spot.
Jakob is a talented chef, as is Echterbille. There’s technique and experience on the plates here. Lobster on a recent evening was treated well, as were foie gras and cassoulet. But there’s also chicken fried steak and sirloin, popular dishes in these parts.
My first visit to Brasserie 1895, about a month ago, involved tamales and butternut squash and poblano pepper, followed by fried chicken (brined in buttermilk) served with a Szechuan pepper gravy, braised mustard greens, and candied pecans. We then sampled spaghetti carbonara and veal short rib cannelloni, the latter a magnificent dish, rich sausage and cannelloni made with skill.
About a week ago, I again sat at a table in Friendswood, and the food was even better, more nuanced and assured. There’s a wood oven at Brasserie 1895, and they use it well. Our Vespaio pizza came from it, and when you venture to Friendswood, order this dish.
I am a stickler for “my” kind of crust — I’ve had far too many pies that taste like Saltine crackers since moving to Houston — and while I wanted a touch more crisp on this Vespaio, it was more than satisfying. I can only surmise that the proofing was done properly, and the edges of the crust were moist and rich and, yes, not lacking the crisp factor. The fontina and speck together create a saltiness and creaminess that pleases, but then you break the egg yolk, and taste it all, and you close your eyes and smile. I added a pinch of salt to my yolk, but this pie is a winner.
Next came pocket bread and braised goat and radishes and onions. First, I tasted a piece of the meat on its own, and thought, uh oh, a bit tough. Flavor great, but a tad chewy. OK, a bite of the wonderful bread, the piquant sauce, the vegetables, and tender goat. That first real bite immediately banished my initial worry. Yes, that one piece of goat was the outlier.
This dish was a great surprise, a compact and comforting and satisfying handful. Do not use fork and knife here; pick this up and savor.
I predict great things for Brasserie 1895, further evolution of the menu and offerings — a full alcohol license is in the offing — and Jakob and Echterbille will certainly use their extensive experience and talents and do their part to transform the food scene in their part of the world.
It’s time to take a drive.