Thai snapper at Davis St. at Hermann Park
Chef Mark Holley, Davis St. at Hermann Park
Seafood mezcal cocktail at Davis St. at Hermann Park
Cheesecake at Davis St. at Hermann Park
Coconut cake at Davis St. at Hermann Park
Fans of chef Mark Holley have followed his career from Brennan’s to Pesce (with 12 years spent cooking at each) to his own midtown eatery Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, which closed in 2016 shortly after Hurricane Harvey swept through town. It’s time to rejoice: The chef is back behind the range.
For the last several months, the larger-than-life Holley has been front and center at Davis St. at Hermann Park, a ground-level restaurant anchoring the residential high-rise Mosaic, across from Hermann Park. Here, in a modern, comfortable setting with sleek black-marble tabletops and floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed wine displays, a warm sense of Southern hospitality pervades.
Not to mention reverence for the chef.
Embracing his Southern roots and his love for the creole fare of New Orleans, Holley has deftly blended both flavor profiles and indigenous ingredients along with an homage to the tastes of culturally diverse Houston, from pan-Asian to Latin. The menu offerings will be familiar to many, as the chef estimates about half the carte is made up of well-loved dishes from his late restaurant Holley’s, while about 20 percent were favorites on the Pesce menu.
The rest are bold new creations that reflect the totality of his cooking oeuvre. Cocktails are of the artisan variety. Highlights include the Sir Lancelot, a cherry-infused bourbon mint julep named after Holley’s Louisville-born granddad, and the Island Spice, a jalapeño-spiked tequila tincture with coconut rum and pomegranate juice ($12 each).
The magnanimous Holley, who has mentored a new generation of chefs, frequently touts his talented team. Chef de cuisine Ricardo Ingles Gonzalez and creole chef Teresa Florentino have worked alongside him for decades.
Inspired dishes include the new seafood mezcal cocktail, a conical seafood salad enrobed in a spicy charred lime and chipotle dressing ($18) and grilled octopus, cooked sous vide and brushed with a sweet sorghum glaze that contrasts with the bright salsa verde beneath ($15). His crisp pork belly is a tender, rich delight, served atop pimento cheese grits with fermented cole slaw and pickled, dehydrated strawberry slices ($15).
The Thai-style whole snapper is flash-fried and brought to the table with two sauces: red curry gastrique and Thai barbecue, alongside Korean kimchi-spiked collard greens and hoppin’ john stir-fried rice — an inventive take on snapper that draws from almost every culinary inspiration (market price). The mighty blackened flounder comes with rock shrimp, etouffée and mirliton-okra hushpuppies (market price).
And what could be more Southern than to end your meal with a towering slice of coconut cake, made even sweeter with a drizzle of burnt caramel sauce and spiced pecans ($12). Open for dinner, Sunday brunch and Sunday supper, Wednesday jazz night; closed Mondays.
Davis St. at Hermann Park, 5925 Almeda St., 877.328.4778.