By Joanna O’Leary
Photos by Kim Coffman
If variety is the spice of life, then trying new things with your partner is a recipe for romance. Case in point—dinner at Genesis Steakhouse in Bellaire, whose accessible yet elegant kosher fare has been delighting Houstonians of all religious affiliations since its opening. With its softly lit dining room dressed in warm earthy hues and intimate tables organized around a whimsical tree, Genesis is the perfect date-night setting for more than just the chosen people. Yes, two Jews in love will connect on common culinary ground at Genesis; however, shiksa couples and goyim pairs will also be amply rewarded. In fact, if you linger long enough over multiple courses, you may just find yourself pondering conversion.
The key to understanding the restaurant’s unconventional (yet orthodox) manner of preparing their meats lies in the answer to one simple question: What’s blood got to do with it? In accordance with kosher standards, Genesis utilizes meats from animals who died in a pain-free fashion and are treated via kosher preparation, specifically drained of blood and soaked in sea salt prior to cooking. An absence of blood does not denote a dearth of flavor, for even just one bite of the restaurant’s carnivorous offerings showcases the sumptuous seasonings and tenderizing techniques employed by Genesis’ chefs to render superior tastes and textures.
But first (or “in the beginning”), Genesis created a fabulous cocktail menu that can serve as a terrific prelude to dinner with your longtime companion, or smooth over jitters and awkwardness on a first date. Standouts include the playful “Leah Is Back” with vodka, strawberries, and mint, or the frothy “White Dragon,” made Gatsby-style with egg white, tequila, lemon, and Cointreau. Don’t let a lack of reservations deter you from an impromptu date night at Genesis, because having to wait for a table gives you the opportunity to belly up to the magnificent bar for a few of these luscious libations.
Once seated, ask your server for a wine recommendation; even if you and your date always drink the same wine, the knowledgeable staff is almost certain to suggest something that will become your new favorite. Sip this selection while sharing appetizers of smoked salmon with garlic crostini, egg, and red onion, short rib tacos, or the house favorite—a veritable tower of thickly battered onion rings.
With regard to entrées, Genesis offers multiple avenues to explore. Lovers of haute comfort food will go ga-ga over “The Bruce” burger, which stacks pastrami, onion strings, and a fried egg atop a prime beef patty, while those drawn to the ocean will find extreme satisfaction in seafood dishes like the Chilean sea bass served with your choice of pecan, pistachio, or almond crust.
Needless to say, red meat is what is mostly for dinner at Genesis. Breaking vegetarian (or breaking the ice with your date) is never more enjoyable than when sharing the restaurant’s signature falling-off-the-bone lamb chops in a rosemary reduction, the imposing veal chop with demi-glaze, or any of the Angus rib-eye steaks. Pair any of these with a side dish of Brussels sprouts with pastrami or mashed potatoes (that “serves two or so”) for the perfect complement to your protein feast.
A rotating selection of desserts means that on any given night you have your choice of boozy Bananas Foster browned in sugar, butter, and rum (Sunday); New Orleans-style bread pudding (Thursdays and Fridays); or the gut-busting (but in a good way) Chocolate Explosion, an intensely moist dark chocolate brownie served à la mode (Mondays and Wednesdays). No matter how full you are, order at least one sweet—with two spoons, of course.
Joanna O’Leary is a freelance food and travel writer based in Houston, Texas. Her exploits are chronicled at brideyoleary.com.