There’s something new at Sorrel Urban Bistro. In February the farm-to-table concept started serving Sunday supper from 5 to 9 p.m.
“We want this to be a neighborhood-friendly place,” says Danish executive chef Soren Pedersen. “We’re not uptight, so we thought it would be nice to have a place where people can just drop in on a Sunday for a casual supper. And what’s easier than chops and frites?”
The Sunday chops-and-frites menu will change, just as the regular menu here changes daily, depending on what fresh, local ingredients the chef can source. In a charming aside, the daily paper menus always include a little note about an historic occurrence, like the February 5 menu that stated: On This Day in 1953—The Walt Disney film Peter Pan opened at the Roxy Theatre in New York City.
The first February menu for Sunday supper on February 12 featured two starters, two desserts (one will always be the triple chocolate bread pudding), and four chop entrées. There was a Brookshire pork chop with grain mustard and scallion butter, a veal chop with tarragon, a rib-eye chop with chili, and a fish chop with lemon and dill butter.
Wait a minute. A fish chop?
“In Denmark we do a lot of salmon chops,” explains Pedersen. “You cut the fish just like a meat chop. But in keeping with our local philosophy, we decided to use Gulf-coast fish.”
The creation was an almaco jack fresh from the Gulf of Mexico, a tender white fish similar in taste to an amber jack. Chopped, grilled, and served with golden Brussels sprouts and beets and, of course, a large side of frites.
Sorrel, in the old Ziggy’s Healthy Grill spot on West Alabama, has a light and minimalist feel. When you enter the space, you’re greeted at the reception desk that sports a flat-screen TV streaming live kitchen action. There’s a bar area to the left of the entrance that also offers local cheeses, handcrafted breads, and charcuteries (they have a wide variety of salami, sausages, and prosciutto, both imported and house-made) for noshing in or to-go, and then the main dining room with an open kitchen and chef tables to watch the culinary action. And there’s plenty of action.
The restaurant opened last summer, the brainchild of Ray Salti and Pedersen, who are also partners in Ray’s Grill, a popular farm-to-table restaurant in Fulshear, Texas.
“The beauty of the concept is that now there are so many farms that are doing this,” Pedersen says. “Because there are so many chefs and home cooks that want to buy local. Five years ago we couldn’t have done this.”
Sorrel buys pork and veal from Black Hill Ranch, produce from Gundermann Acres, cheese from Houston Dairy Maids, and Pola’s Cheeses, among many other local producers and farmers. Even 80 percent of the seafood comes direct from the Gulf of Mexico.
A recent meal featured crisply seared pork with roasted-garlic mashed potatoes laced with bacon lardon (fat) and caramelized onion, while a recent lunch menu had a very delicious trio of little fish tacos and warm house-made red salsa. But if the pulled pork sandwich is on the menu, you’ll want to go for that. The mix of spicy pork and creamy slaw on the crusty fresh bread makes for a delicious lunch.
If you still have room, desserts here can be decadent. The coffee crème brûlée and grapefruit granita are wonderful, but if the chef’s traditional Danish klejner cookies are on the menu, do not pass them up. Not an average cookie, this typical Christmas treat from Denmark is fried and dusted with powdered sugar, resembling more of a beignet. And it comes with a little pot of warm fruit sauce to pour over the treats.
As for the bar, there are seasonally inspired cocktails, artisanal beers, and an extensive wine list of 200; in fact, the entire back wall of the dining room is one giant wine rack. Twenty-five percent of the wines are organic, and there are eight wines from local winery Vintners Own in the Heights, a custom crush winery that buys grapes from California’s wine country to create personalized wines.
Sorrel is closed on Mondays, but offers lunch Tuesday through Saturday, and the bar area serving bar bites stays open until midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They also have a pretty inventive Sunday brunch that, if you’re lucky, can include house crepes with jam, a tomato caper omelet, Texas quail, or fried sweet breads with cheese grits.
So drop in sometime for a delightful farm-to-table meal, where the dishes are presented in a fresh and simple way—just like the taste.
2202 West Alabama Street
Marene Gustin is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.