The Prime Room at Cafe Annie provides a new twist on a traditional dining concept.
Robert Del Grande explains his concept before official opening of The Prime Room.
What once was the wine room is now entry to The Prime Room.
USDA prime beef is the centerpiece of the beautifully crafted menu at Cafe Annie.
Oysters on the half shell are part of the traditional old school, now new, menu at Cafe Annie.
With room for only 36, the vibe is cozy, clubby and just right.
Traditional sides are part of The Prime Room picture.
The Yorkshire pudding at Cafe Annie is as light as air, the perfect accompaniment for prime rib.
A new painting for The Prime Room.
While Houston’s fickle cafe society is currently swooning over Mastro’s, Emmaline and a’Bouzy, there is one venerable foodie hotspot poised to win over a fair slice of that affection with a new twist on a not-so-new idea. As of Friday, Cafe Annie officially launched The Prime Room, the niche dining spot on the ground floor of the Post Oak Boulevard restaurant.
We visited the space last October when chef Robert Del Grande was reorganizing the restaurant map and re-imagining the previously unused corner. Last week, we dined in the intimate, white tablecloth setting, sampling the wood-grilled USDA prime rib with mouth-watering Yorkshire pudding, the salmon, the Caesar salad, the creamy onion soup, the raw oysters, the garlicky sauteed spinach and the to-die-for, diet-defying fresh-from-the-oven yeast rolls.
Leaving the detailed food critique to those who eat out for a living, I will say that as a card-carrying carnivore and salmon junkie, the dinner for four was flawless.The limited menu is on point for the retro feel that Del Grande ascribes to in this twist on the James Beard Award-wining menu offered upstairs.
But wait. It wasn’t just the divine meal that I wanted to talk about, though its appeal surely sells The Prime Room on its own. It was in fact the charming, cozy atmosphere of the 36-seat space so reminiscent of the wildly popular Bar Annie of the original Cafe Annie, previously located just up the boulevard.
“I like the idea of going forward by kind of going backward by tapping into some of those older timeless sort of things,” Del Grande told us in October. He was actually referring to the menu. But the same thought goes for the venue.
It was love at first sight for the banquette-lined space, lighted by romantic lamps, candles and softly-glowing contemporary chandeliers. Draping on two sides further adds to the cosseted ambience. We see this as the new hotspot for a discerning white tablecloth clientele with a hankering for a big slice of melt-in-your mouth beef. However, Del Grande allows that the limited menu will fluctuate somewhat throughout the seasons. Think the addition of, perhaps, fried chicken in warmer months.
“It only took eight years, but we’re finally doing something with this downstairs space,” Del Grande says in a statement. “I’ve always wanted to execute a concept with a more intimate and clubby vibe, and the first floor offered the perfect opportunity. The best part is that we already had it in our possession.”