Chef in the middle of World Series action, new restaurants are hot podcast topics

Chef in the middle of World Series action, new restaurants are hot podcast topics

Chef in the middle of World Series action, new restaurants are hot podcast topics

Trace discusses the food he’s serving at Potente as an Italian-style evolution of the Creole food he became known for during his long stint as the executive chef at Brennan’s of Houston.

“To me, I’m continuing to do the same things I’ve done and put my stamp on and am known for,” Trace says. “I’m using seasonal products. I’m using all the same purveyors and farmers and fishermen. It’s just more Italian-influened, which, Creole and Italian go hand-in-hand. It’s kind of easy for me.”

Trace also discusses what its been like to be in the middle of the World Series crowds, how he feels about working for Jim Crane, and what he’s done to make Osso & Kristalla appealing to diners.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston

By Forbes Travel Guide Correspondent Mai Pham | July 17, 2017

Until recently, downtown Houston wasn’t a place you went to dine unless there was a purpose behind it. Maybe, if you were in the area for business, to see a concert or catch a Houston Astros game, you’d plan a meal there. But largely, the downtown food scene has been overshadowed by gastronomic enticement elsewhere in the Bayou City.

Thanks to Super Bowl LI, however, the neighborhood is suddenly flush with new places to try. From chef-driven Mexican cuisine and Italian fine dining to a 25-seat boutique cocktail bar, here’s what’s happening in downtown Houston right now.

Anyone who is familiar with the Houston restaurant scene will have heard of Hugo Ortega. The beloved chef and his restaurateur wife, Tracy Vaught, are behind some of the city’s most enduring and highly lauded restaurants (Hugo’s, Caracol and Backstreet Cafe).

Xochi is their latest and most ambitious project to date. Located on the ground floor of the newly debuted Marriott Marquis Houston, Xochi specializes in chef-driven Oaxacan cuisine.

Highlights here include one of the seven Mexican moles on rotation, the slow-cooked suckling pig known as lechon and pastry chef Ruben Ortega’s phenomenal dessert that resembles a cacao pod.

And if you’d like to pair any of those treats with a tipple, beverage director Sean Beck’s excellent selection of mezcals and craft cocktails does just the trick.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

Potente’s Balsamic Duck, Photo Credit: Potente

Astros owner Jim Crane has a vision for the downtown Houston area surrounding Minute Maid Park. He wants people to enjoy themselves before the first pitch and long after the last out. Naturally, you need great food and drink options for that to happen.

That vision served as the inspiration behind his new, glamorous fine-dining restaurant, Potente.

The gilded onyx entryway of this Gensler-designed stunner leads you to an intimate dining room with half-moon-shaped booths and tables flanked by high-backed chairs. A futuristic iPad menu lends flair, from which you may choose Italian classics such as frutti di mare, housemade pastas or the indulgent filetto di manzo with pistachio gremolata by executive chef Danny Trace. A wine list composed primarily of Italian and California labels and a sexy bar adjacent to the dining room invite you to linger.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

Osso & Kristalla’s Dagwood Sandwich, Photo Credit: Osso & Kristalla

Osso & Kristalla
Just next door to Potente is the billionaire owner’s second downtown establishment, this one styled as a family friendly, casual trattoria. (A patio connects the two eateries.)

Mornings at the all-day eatery are defined by Italian coffee and house-baked goods like croissants or bomboloni(Italian doughnuts) from pastry chef David Berg.

Lunch and dinner bring a choice of salads, sandwiches, wood-oven fired pizzas, housemade pastas and entrées such as the Sicilian barbecue shrimp from chef Trace.

A canopy of large-format black-and-gold chandeliers and zigzag-patterned tiled floors provide ample opportunity for some Instagrammable photo opportunities as well.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

Grotto Downtown, Photo Credit: Connie Anderson Photography

Grotto Downtown
It may fall under the umbrella of the Grotto Ristorante chain, but Grotto Downtown was conceived as, and runs as, its own independent venture. Guiding its conception were two main imperatives: first, that it would serve small plates; second, that everything in the restaurant would be made from scratch.

Wood-fired pizzas are done from dough tossed high in the air. And, of course, local produce is incorporated wherever possible. Executive chef Sean Hochstein’s small plates are fun and delicious. Try the pasta carbonara topped with a fried egg, Calabrian chili cauliflower and grilled beef skewers served with Parmesan fries.

A lively ambience and décor — soaring ceilings punctuated by metal chandeliers, a festive bar, beautiful artisanal tile flooring and an outdoor patio kitted with loungers and fire pits — also make for a great night out on the town.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

Brasserie du Parc, Photo Credit: Brasserie du Parc

Brasserie du Parc
One block away from Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Houston, situated directly across the street from Discovery Green park, is this restaurant, downtown’s new spot for classic French fare.

The latest venture for chef Philippe Verpiand and his wife, Monica, who also own Etoile Cuisine et Bar in Uptown Park, Brasserie du Parc provides an alluring bar and charming enclosed terrace that brings a little bit of France to Texas.

Expect classics like steak frites, moules marinières (mussels) and foie gras au torchon, and save room for the decadent desserts.

If you’re only in need of a snack, opt for crepes on the go from the Creperie du Parc takeaway window.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

Local Foods Downtown’s Spring Harvest Salad, Photo Credit: Julie Soefer Photography

Local Foods Downtown
The fourth outpost of Benjy Levit and Dylan Murray’s adored temple to from-scratch sandwiches, Local Foods Downtown’s hip 10,000-square-foot, warehouse-like space is awash in cheerful shades of blue and green on all three floors.

Perfect for a casual meal any time of day, Local Foods Downtown delivers a feast of healthy favorites such as the truffled egg salad or crunchy chicken sandwich, farm-fresh salad and housemade soup.

Pescatarians and seafood lovers can also embrace the new raw bar and ceviche program overseen by chef Geoff Hundt, with items like Gulf shrimp ceviche with jackfruit, red snapper campechana or the local oyster shooters made with peperoncini vodka and a bloody mary vinaigrette.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

The Pearl Restaurant & Bar’s Grouper, Photo Credit: Shannon O’Hara

The Pearl Restaurant & Bar
The Sam Houston Hotel, built in 1924 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, recently debuted this newly renovated and re-concepted lobby eatery.

Designed by H3D Hospitality Design, the 125-seat space provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of the outside world with a space decked out with vintage brass light fixtures, chesterfield sofas in caramel-colored leather, and zinc and brass tables.

The seafood-driven menu includes winners such as classic shrimp and grits, scallop carbonara and simply grilled fish, complemented by boozy cocktails and an excellent scotch collection at The Pearl Bar.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

Bayou & Bottle, Photo Credit: Don Riddle

Bayou & Bottle
Rich, caramel-toned design elements and low ambient lighting create allure at Bayou & Bottle, celebrity chef Richard Sandoval’s swanky lobby bar at Four Seasons Hotel Houston.

Debuting in January 2017 after a multi-million-dollar renovation, the 30-seat bar boasts a 125-label whisky and bourbon list, an extensive craft beer selection and custom cocktails, with a whiskey sommelier on hand to help with flights and tastings.

Nosh on a menu of globally influenced bar bites, ranging from Korean barbecue chicken wings to beef fat fries, as well as larger plates like the black garlic pan-seared scallops.

After dinner, linger in a booth or lounge chair, or snag one of the two private Topgolf suites to practice your swing on a simulated green.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

Biggio’s Sports Bar’s Loaded Nachos, Photo Credit: Biggio’s Houston

Biggio’s Sports Bar
Opened in partnership with Houston Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, this upscale hangout wins by ensuring that everything is big and beautiful. The bi-level space features two different bar areas: a more intimate spot with a patio upstairs and a sprawling downstairs with 40 bar stools.

Massive TVs are like wallpaper here — in total, nine big screens and two nearly 50-foot-tall Jumbotrons grace the space — ensuring that everyone has a great view of the game.

On the food front, popular items include the massive beef hot dogs, burgers and shareable plates of loaded nachos, brisket tacos and flatbreads.

Craft beer, top-shelf spirits and cocktails aplenty are de rigueur.

10 New Spots To Eat And Drink In Downtown Houston - Forbes Travel Guide

Tongue-Cut Sparrow’s Pimm’s Spritz, Photo Credit: Elizabeth Conley

Tongue-Cut Sparrow
Part speakeasy, part ultra-refined boutique cocktail bar, Tongue-Cut Sparrow derives its name from a Japanese fable while the actual concept is modeled after the bespoke bars its principals encountered in Tokyo. It is a place for serious cocktail drinkers.

There’s only one caveat: Though the owners make it clear that walk-ins are always welcome, during peak hours, the only way to ensure that you’ll snag one of the bar’s 25 seats without waiting is to make a reservation ahead of time.

Either way, entrance is gained via an unmarked door at the rear of The Pastry War mezcaleria on Main Street.

Once inside, you’re in for an experience involving meticulously crafted cocktails. It all begins with warm towels (to clean your hands) from a well-dressed bartender and is followed by your choice of 16 classic (see: a martini, a gimlet, a French 75) and four original cocktails, all prepared with a precision rivaling that of any other bar in the city.

Longtime Brennan’s executive chef makes move to Astros owner’s new restaurants

Longtime Brennan’s executive chef makes move to Astros owner’s new restaurants

Longtime Brennan’s executive chef makes move to Astros owner’s new restaurants – CultureMap Houston

Chef Danny Trace from Brennan's

Danny Trace is the new executive chef at Potente and Osso & Kristalla. Courtesy photo

In the latest edition of “Where is the Houston chef now?” former longtime Brennan’s executive chef Danny Trace has been named the new executive chef at Astros owner Jim Crane’s two new downtown restaurants.

Trace will head the culinary operations at Potente and Osso & Kristalla, both located at 1515 Texas Avenue, near Minute Maid Park, where the American League West-leading Houston Astros play.

Trace replaces executive chef Michael Parker, who will continue to oversee Crane’s culinary operations in Florida. Parker was instrumental in hiring Trace, according to a press release about the change.

Trace left Brennan’s in late March after working for the Brennan family for 20 years, first at Commander’s Palace and then in Houston when the iconic restaurant reopened in 2010 after being damaged during Hurricane Ike.

Trace said he learned about cooking from his Italian grandmother and Cajun grandfather while growing up in Louisiana. “From étouffée to grand bowls of pasta, the marriage of these traditional dishes and family experiences is the very reason I am a chef. I look forward to returning to my Italian roots at Potente and Osso & Kristalla,” Trace said in the release.

His hiring caps a flurry of restaurant changes in Houston. Earlier this week​ former Killen’s Steakhouse executive chef Joe Cervantez was named the new executive chef at Brennan’s to fill the role vacated by Trace. Prior to joining Killen’s, Cervantez worked at Brennan’s under Trace.

Killen’s Steakhouse chef-owner Ronnie Killen hired Steve Haug, recently of Jade Hospitality (Grazia Italian Kitchen, Peska) to replace Cervantez in the lead role at his popular Pearland restaurant.

Houston Astros owner’s downtown Italian eateries land former Brennan’s chef

Houston Astros owner’s downtown Italian eateries land former Brennan’s chef

Houston Astros owner’s downtown Italian eateries land former Brennan’s chef – Houston Business Journal

 A new chef is leading the kitchens at Potente and Osso & Kristalla in downtown Houston.

Danny Trace, former executive chef at Brennan’s of Houston, has taken over as executive chef at the Italian restaurants, according to a press release. Earlier this year, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane opened the restaurants at 1515 Texas Ave., on the ground floor of The Finger Cos.’ new 500 Crawford apartment complex across from Minute Maid Park.

At the time, Crane’s personal chef, Michael Parker, was named executive chef for the restaurants’ culinary team. Micah Rideout was named chef de cuisine, and David Berg was named executive pastry chef. Rideout and Berg remain in place, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Parker played an integral role in hiring Trace and continues to oversee Crane’s culinary operations in Florida.

“I am excited to have Chef Trace in Houston to oversee the culinary operations at Potente and Osso & Kristalla,” Parker said in the release. “A remarkably talented chef, I know that he will embrace and elevate what we have created at both concepts.”

Bryan Caswell was originally attached to the concepts, but he mutually split with Crane and the eateries in November to pursue new projects with his company, Bryan Caswell Concepts. Bill Floyd remains general manager for both restaurants.

Trace left his position as executive chef of Brennan’s on March 31. He had worked in Brennan-family restaurants for two decades and was hired to his latest position in 2009.

Earlier this week, Brennan’s announced it hired Joe Cervantez, the former executive chef of Killen’s Steakhouse, as its top chef. On the same day, Killen’s also announced it hired Steve Haug, most recently of Peska Prime Steaks & Seafood and Grazia Italian Kitchen, to replace Cervantez.

Growing up in Louisiana, Trace learned about cooking from his Italian grandmother and Cajun grandfather.

“The most memorable meals for me are of my grandparents in the kitchen. My grandmother’s family was from Milan and Naples and my grandfather was from Thibodaux, Louisiana,” Trace said in the release. “From étouffée to grand bowls of pasta, the marriage of these traditional dishes and family experiences is the very reason I am a chef. I look forward to returning to my Italian roots at Potente and Osso & Kristalla.”

Olivia Pulsinelli is the senior web editor for the Houston Business Journal’s award-winning website. Follow her on Twitter for more.

Danny Trace joins team at Potente and Osso & Kristalla

Danny Trace joins team at Potente and Osso & Kristalla

Danny Trace joins team at Potente and Osso & Kristalla – Houston Chronicle

The chef shuffle game has been in active play lately. This week saw the announcement that Killen’s Steakhouse executive chef Joe Cervantez would return to Brennan’s of Houston (where he was once sous chef) as the iconic restaurant’s executive chef. Killen’s then announced that chef Steve Haug would join the popular steakhouse’s team to lead kitchen operations as executive chef, replacing Cervantez. Haug left work at the rebranded Peska Seafood & Prime Steaks (it will soon be renamed again as PesKarne) and before that with Grazia Italian Kitchen and a much longer affiliation with Del Frisco’s steakhouse group.

And now comes the biggest shuffle of the week: Danny Trace, former executive chef at Brennan’s of Houston, will oversee kitchen operations at downtown newcomer Potente and its sister restaurant Osso & Kristalla.

The news answers a long-standing concerned by many local foodies about Trace after Brennan’s announced on March 31that it was parting ways with its longtime executive chef. Trace was tapped from within the Commander’s Palace family of restaurants in October 2009 to lead the reopening of Brennan’s of Houston after it was destroyed by fire during Hurricane Ike.

Trace has been mum since leaving Brennan’s, leaving many to wonder what was to become of one of the city’s most popular and visible chefs.

Today Trace announced he is taking over at Astro’s owner Jim Crane’s luxe Italian restaurant, Potente, and its sister outpost, the casual trattoria Osso & Kristalla, at 1515 Texas. Both restaurants opened in February. Trace takes over for opening chef Michael Parker, Crane’s personal chef who also serves as executive chef at the Floridian National Golf Club which Crane owns. The news of Trace’s hire was confirmed by Bill Floyd, general manager for both restaurants.

“It feels right. I’m very excited,” Trace said Thursday. “I’m looking forward to working with Jim Crane and Bill Floyd.”

And, he said, for putting his own stamp on Potente’s upscale Italian menu. Trace said he that within weeks there will be a new Potente menu that will embrace Italian cuisine but with a nod to Houston – he plans to use local seafood and local produce as much as possible.

It’s a cuisine, he said, that’s familiar and comfortable for him. “I’ve always been influenced by Italian,” he said. “It’s part of Creole and what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years.”

When Trace left Brennan’s, the restaurant’s owner, Alex Brennan-Martin, said it was on good terms. Brennan-Martin went on to praise Trace as a valued member of the Commander’s Palace family and wished him luck. On Thursday Trace said he feels the same affection for the restaurant family he left: “God bless the Brennan’s family. I’ve learned so much from them. They teach you how to be a restaurateur, which is so much more than just cooking.”

Trace said that two original members of the Potente/Osso & Kristalla team remain in place: Micah Rideout as chef de cuisine, and David Berg as executive pastry chef.

Trace’s work at Potente and Osso & Kristalla begins immediately.

Astros Owner Jim Crane Opens Two New Restaurants in Downtown Houston



HOUSTON — Guests were invited on Sunday to sample light bites and enjoy cocktails at the soft opening of two fantastic new restaurants, owned by Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.  Osso & Kristalla is a casual trattoria located next door to Potente, an upscale dining establishment in downtown Houston. The names of the restaurants are references to the Crane’s three children, translated in Italian.

Osso & Kristalla features an open kitchen which brings diners closer to the action to engage them with the food and the environment. The soft, rustic space boasts a neutral, Italian aesthetic with a playful and casual feel that transfers to an outdoor patio – the perfect place for diners to soak in lively downtown Houston.

The restaurant will open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday. All bread, pasta and pastries will be homemade and served alongside Houston’s own Katz Coffee. Lunch offers sandwiches, salads and wood-fired pizzas, perfect for the downtown business person. At dinner the space transforms into a modern, yet relaxed lounge atmosphere with casual Italian fare, a full bar and all wine served by the glass.

The culinary team will be led by Executive Chef Michael Parker, Chef de Cuisine Micah Rideout and Executive Pastry Chef David Berg, the same team that oversees Potente.

Executive Chef Michael Parker has close to three decades of culinary experience and also oversees dining operations at Crane’s exclusive club in Florida, Floridian National Golf Club. Born in England, Parker worked with the famous Roux Brothers at The Waterside Inn a three-star Michelin restaurant outside of London. He received his culinary degree at Bournemouth and Poole College in Dorset, England in 1987. In addition to Parker’s appointment at The Waterside Inn, his career has included time at The Club at Carlton Woods, The Lodge at Sea Island, Century Plaza Hotel and Tower, Caesars Palace and Gallagher’s Steak House in Las Vegas. He has also cooked for former Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama, as well as the Queen of England, Prince Phillip and the Queen Mother. Chef Parker’s culinary vision will bring a new level of luxury to the Houston restaurant scene.

[Click first photo to activate slideshow..Beware the food is AH-MAZING!!!]

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Chef de Cuisine Micah Rideout comes to the restaurants with over a decade of high-end experience and a passion for taking diners on a unique culinary journey. He most recently served as Chef de Cuisine at Reef Restaurant and KUU Modern Japanese Restaurant. Rideout previously served as Executive Chef at Tarakaan Asian Restaurant, Executive Sous Chef at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown and also as Sous Chef at The Inn at Dos Brisas –a Relais & Chateaux property.

Executive Pastry Chef David Berg has over 35 years of culinary experience in Los Angeles and Houston as a chef, pastry chef and artisan bread expert. Berg most recently served as Executive Pastry Chef at Tony’s Restaurant and Phoenicia Specialty Foods. Previously Berg served as Chef de Cuisine at Kiran’s Restaurant and was Director of Operations and Partner at Mi Luna Tapas Restaurant and Bar. He also owned and operated two successful bakeries in California, Café Opera & Bakery and Naturally David’s Bakery & Catering.

Bill Floyd oversees the operations for both restaurants. Floyd, a Jean Georges Vongerichten alumnus, brings decades of high-end hospitality experience to the new restaurants. He is also owner of Jackson Street BBQ and co-owner of Reef, Third Bar, Little Bigs and El Real Tex Mex.

Fore more information, visit the website at

Potente, the upscale sister restaurant, is located next door to Osso & Kristalla. Its interior is evocative of a luxurious Italian villa with a modern twist, featuring a spacious bar, magnificent main dining space, private room and a special chef’s table in the wine room. Potente is open nightly at 5 p.m. and accepts reservations  For more information, visit the website at

First Look at the Food and Wine of Osso & Kristalla and Potente

First Look at the Food and Wine of Osso & Kristalla and Potente


Potente and Osso & Kristalla are the newest, and much anticipated, Italian restaurants to grace Downtown Houston.

Conceived and brought to life by Astros owner Jim Crane, the restaurants sit side by side and are located across from Minute Maid Park, home of baseball’s Houston Astros.

Potente is an upscale, luxurious, Italian-villa inspired dinner destination.

Sister restaurant Osso & Kristalla is a bright, cheerful, casual trattoria that is open all day.

Where Potente wows with its swanky, over the top sophistication, Osso & Kristalla invites you in to relax in its easy going, rustic, yet modern interior.

I was invited with the Houston Food Blogger Collective to a ‘First Look’ event to get a glimpse of all of the glamour and Italian deliciousness. While the restaurants are a study in contrasts – Potente which oozes romance and elegance and Osso & Kristalla which beckons to chill with a group of friends – the similarities that bind them are high quality, local ingredients and a commitment to making the customer feel at home with great service.

The Food

The menu at Potente sets the stage for a truly fine-dining experience and features a compact selection of seafood and homemade pastas, as well as beef, duck, and lamb. The more casual menu at Osso & Kristalla offers up delicious pizzas, pastas, salads, and Italian Secondi with a modern twist. And because the restaurants are so new, diners can expect to menus to evolve given customers reactions and input.

Some tasty highlights of the evening included:

Arancinis with marinara were drool worthy and a perfect start to the evening.

As was this beef carpaccio on a bread stick.

The Salads – they were truly a thing a beauty and so artfully presented. While the kale salad with apple, pancetta, pine nuts, ricotta and preserved lemon dressing as well as the Caesar salads were fantastic in their own right, this steak salad definitely stole the show.

The pizzas with fresh ingredients and toppings were top notch, but the perfectly executed crusts – crispy on the outside with a light and fluffy softness on the inside – were the perfect base for the authentic Italian style pizzas. This pizza is the real deal.

Entrees of note included:

Italian BBQ Shrimp with Giant Couscous, Sundried Tomato, and Almond.

This amazing Rigatoni & Meatball stuffed with Fontina. Seriously delicious meatball.

And this juicy Roasted Chicken.

The evening ended on a fittingly sweet note. While pastry chef David Berg indicated that the dessert menu was still being tweaked, these Tiramisu bites were absolutely divine! If they make it on to the menu, get the chocolate. Really.

The Wine

Because this is a wine blog. And while foodies will for sure swoon over the menu, wine enthusiasts are sure to love the wine selection for what it has and does not have. Both restaurants feature a large selection of Italian wines (about 65% is made up of Italian wines), as well as a selection of French, Spanish, and California wines amongst others. But what is missing are the oft seen, and much maligned, high restaurant markups. Osso & Kristalla and Potente will sell wine at blessedly low markups (think Clark Cooper’s Ibiza, Brasserie 19, and SaltAir; Underbelly; or Reef). The goal? To have the customer not be afraid to truly explore the wine list. And – to make them want to come back and try more.

Even though the restaurants will share the same focus on Italian wines and favorable pricing, the menus themselves will be quite different. Osso & Kristalla will feature around 50 wines, all by the glass, with the goal that most wines sell for under $50. Want a $50 Barolo? You’ll be able to get one at Osso. Additionally, Osso will feature wines that are more recognizable to the average consumer and that will sell themselves.

Potente on the other hand will have wines that generally start at the $50 price range and go up from there. The restaurant will also utilize the Coravin system to showcase some truly special wines. The wine collection at Potente is still being assembled, but the goal is to offer around 300 wines. And if you want to dine surrounded by the nectar of the Gods, reserve the restaurant’s Wine Room, which is the actual cellar and seats eight.


So whether you choose to dine at Osso or Potente, wine lovers can expect great things from this fantastic addition to the Houston wine scene. And no worries if you’re dining at Osso on this fabulous patio and want a bottle of some high-end juice on the Potente list as they will bring one right over for you.

Rejoice Houston wine lovers!

Jim Crane’s New Restaurants Open with a Chef Dream Team

Jim Crane’s New Restaurants Open with a Chef Dream Team

Jim Crane’s New Restaurants Open with a Chef Dream Team – Papercity Magazine

Bryan Caswell’s Replacements Bring High-End Star Power

BY // 01.31.17

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The highly-anticipated new restaurants from Houston Astros owner Jim Crane are set to quietly open this week with a powerhouse new kitchen team, PaperCity has learned. In a week of Super happenings, the one that happens almost under the radar is liable to leave some of the most lasting buzz.

Crane’s restaurants have gone through multiple name changes — and a major chef shakeup — to get to this point.

In the end — after mutually parting ways with celebrity chef Bryan Caswell — Crane went with a man used to his exacting demands. Michael Parker, who helms the culinary operations of Crane’s  ultra high-end Floridian National Golf Club, will be the executive chef. Micah Rideout, the former chef at Asian hotspots Tarakaan and KUU, takes on the role of chef de cuisine for Crane’s new Houston restaurants. David Berg, Houston’s own Bakery Magician, is the pastry chef.

This new chef team speaks to the scope of Crane’s ambitions for the new restaurants at 500 Crawford, the Marvy Finger mid-rise that overlooks Minute Maid Park. Crane yearns for the more formal of the two restaurants, an Italian fine dining spot now named Potente, to be recognized as one of the very best restaurants in Houston. This is an extremely personal project for the Astros owner.

In his first foray into the culinary world, Crane’s named the restaurants after his kids. Potente is the Italian translation of his youngest son James’ nickname. Potente means mighty in Italian. Osso & Kristalla — the more casual all-day cafe — is named after his son Jared and daughter Krystal’s nicknames.

These final names end quite the naming odyssey. When plans for the restaurants were first revealed, they were dubbed Brocca and Il Panchina before morphing into Osso and Kristalla. Now, Osso & Kristalla are one restaurant and Potente is the showpiece high-end spot.

Potente will be going full force for this upcoming Super Bowl weekend, but a restaurant spokesperson tells PaperCity that it will be likely exclusively limited to private dining for openers. With its prime location, right next to Minute Maid (the site of Monday’s night’s media day and Super Bowl opening night extravaganza) and its short walking distance from Discovery Green and all the NFL-booked downtown hotels, Potente has already drawn plenty of big game power player interest.

Yes, Roger Goodell may get to eat there first. But the plan is to be open to everyone shortly after.

Crane’s culinary dream team has been putting out test dishes since last week. The results show that Rideout’s Asian influences make an major impact on the Italian menu. This will be a cutting-edge modern restaurant rather than a throwback traditional Italian spot. (See an exclusive photo of the new food in the slider above this story).

Jim Crane’s new restaurants have gone through a number of changes pre-opening, but they’re here now — and as ambitious as the Astros’ self-made mega-millionaire owner himself.

For more, read PaperCity’s exclusive profile of Jim Crane in the February print issue of PaperCity magazine, on newsstands now. Crane talks Astros, fiscal responsibility, his vision for downtown and the new restaurants — and you get an exclusive look at his behind-the-scenes day-to-day operations.