Eunice is the latest Houston restaurant addition to Greenway Plaza.
Eunice executive chef/partner Drake Leonards
The chic bar at Eunice is sure to attract a sophisticated crowd.
Dining at Eunice is a gently sophisticated experience.
Even before Eunice was set up to accept credit cards, guests were trickling in to the Greenway Plaza brasserie for the highly-anticipated Cajun-Creole menu. By the fourth day of business, the Eunice buzz was hotter than the Louisiana Tabasco sauce that comes with the restaurant’s to-die-for gumbo.
On Thursday night, day four for the restaurant, Aqueduct Capital Group co-founder Tom Roupe, was into his fifth meal and had already held a dinner party with his wife, Jessica, in the private room. Ladies About Town Annie Amante and Mary Smith were in for the second time, loving having their dinner and drinks at the bar. All three have been spreading the word on the fab contemporary, yet friendly, take on Louisiana cuisine.
Such is the talent of Drake Leonards, executive chef/partner of Eunice, the first Houston outpost of the revered New Orleans-based BRG Hospitality (August, Domenica, Borgne, Shaya and Luke). This fellow who grew up on a rice farm in the south Louisiana berg of Eunice (yes, his hometown was inspiration for the restaurant’s name) has made his way back to his culinary roots via an impressive journey.
Leonards did an apprenticeship with chefs Daniel Boulud and Gavin Kaysen at Manhattan’s Café Boulud. He spent two years further sharpening his skills in Europe and returned to his home state to take up the reins at New Orleans’ La Provence and then worked as a executive sous chef at nationally acclaimed Restaurant August.
Our threesome was also in Eunice Thursday night on the fierce recommendation from Amante.
We swooned. You might know that I am a native of Louisiana. Etouffee and gumbo are in my DNA. Our dinner guest, Patsy Fourticq, had a unique take on Creole fare due to the fact that her husband of many decades was born and raised in New Orleans. We both think we make pretty mean gumbos.
No need to slave over that roux any longer. Leonard’s shrimp and andouille sausage gumbo with okra hits the mark with just the right amount of heat, a deep dark roux and succulent shrimp. (No frozen seafood, thank you.) Fourticq practically lapped up her shrimp and crab etouffee served over a cajun spice-infused pasta. My husband, Shafik Rifaat, savored every bite of his cold seafood platter that included a tuna ceviche, perfectly boiled shrimp, succulent oysters and more.
Granted, I’m no food critic. But I do know my cajun food. And I’m in love with Eunice. It will be interesting to see who takes over first — foodies, scenesters or social swells.