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CLOSED - Antonio Gianolo is a fantastic sommelier. And Chris Shepherd is one of the most inventive chefs in Texas and one of the best craftsmen. The menu includes Southern, Mexican, Vietnamese and Mediterranean influences. And if you want to sample all of Shepherd's latest favorites in a single sitting, try the "sandbox tasting" on the Chef's Playground section of the menu. It's nearly $100 per person and the whole table has to order it. Expect wild, inspired dishes -- and come hungry.
Over the course of the next few months, I'm counting down 100 of my favorite Houston dishes. I chose some because they are such quintessential Houston creations, others for their cultural or historica... More »
The cold cured salmon at Catalan came with a duck egg on top. The fish was cured with Tabasco mash, the fermented pepper residue left over after Tabasco sauce is bottled. The cure gave the salmon a sharp tang and a hint of heat. I visited... More »
Better than candy: Insiders know that there are two schools of thought when it comes to eating the foie gras bonbons ($11) at Catalan Food and Wine (5555 Washington, 713-426-4260). One says you should pop them in your mouth whole, so that when... More »
Catalan is the restaurant that's setting the bar for every other dining establishment in Houston; there's a reason executive chef Chris Shepherd is referred to as "The Godfather" by his peers, after all. Just-off-the-truck fresh meat and produce from local farmers, carefully selected wines and a killer wine list by sommelier Antonio Gianola, a stunning dining room with partially open kitchen, and the skilled hands of Shepherd and sous chef Antoine Ware all combine to create one of Houston's... More »
by Nishta J. MehraWhen Chris Shepherd first took the helm at Washington Avenue's Catalan, he kept his menu closely aligned with the region for which the restaurant was named, Spain's Catalonia. "I felt I needed to focus on doing Spanish-influenced items," he says. The decision earned him a lukewarm response from diners and critics. Sure, the dining room was lovely, the wine list from sommelier Antonio Gianola was outstanding and the food was good -- Shepherd, formerly of Brennan's,... More »
In Houston, a great wine list used to mean pages and pages of old French wines that started at a hundred dollars a bottle and went up to the stratosphere. Today, thanks to the popularity of wine bars, overpriced and overrated labels are out and unknown regions and obscure varietals are in. Catalan is the best example of the new wine awareness. The restaurant combines cutting-edge food by chef Chris Shepherd (formerly of Brennan's) with the kind of exciting wine discoveries and wine education... More »
Antonio Gianola is the sommelier at Catalan, and his passion for wine is scary. Gianola demonstrated his encyclopedic knowledge of Italian wines while he served as the wine steward at Da Marco. While composing the wine list at Catalan, he began reaching out to the world's most forward-thinking winemakers. When Gianola starts talking about these folks -- eco-sensitive French winemakers who baby every organic grape into the bottle and eccentric Italian producers who are burying their... More »
The best thing about Catalan's wine list is the prices. They aren't much higher than what you pay at a retail store. But good luck finding most of these rare, highly allocated wines at the local bottle shop. Charles Clark and Grant Cooper from Ibiza, former Brennan's chef and sommelier Chris Shepherd and former Da Marco sommelier Antonio Gianola have assembled a list of spectacular bottles from all over the world. There's bargain Barberas and biodynamic super-Friulis courtesy of Gianola's... More »
Antonio Gianola is the sommelier at Catalan, and his passion for wine is scary. Gianola demonstrated his encyclopedic knowledge of Italian wines while he served as the wine steward at Da Marco. While composing the wine list at Catalan, he began reaching out to the world's most forward-thinking winemakers. When Gianola starts talking about these folks — eco-sensitive French winemakers who baby every organic grape into the bottle and eccentric Italian producers who are burying their wines in amphoras to re-create the flavors of ancient Rome — you start to wonder if the sommelier has gone off the deep end. But the proof is in the drinking. It's easy to put together a bunch of ridiculously priced Bordeaux and Burgundies and call it a great wine list. But Gianola has assembled a list of stunning, innovative wines in the $30-to-$60 range that puts most of the wine lists in Houston to shame.
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