Sunday, November 27, 2011


Joined Friends and Family in Houston, Texas for the 2011 Thanksgiving Holidays and enjoyed myself immensely. Great company and celebration of life was the obvious highlight with nine week old Charlie the focus of the entire trip. This is a special young man with a bright future. His support mechanism starts with parents without equal and a grandmother who is always there with just the right touch and perfectly timed insight. What a joy to observe

University of Houston mavens Dr. Linda and Dr. Don had already chosen our Thanksgiving Day venue – appropriately the certifiably green Haven Restaurant opened in December 2009 by Executive Chef Randy Evans, late the exec at Brennan’s in Houston. The highly regarded Texas Monthly magazine touts the Texas born and raised Evans as The Chef of The Future though our party would righteously argue that he is already there. In 2010 Esquire magazine acknowledged Chef Evans’ culinary skills by naming the chic, farm-to-table Haven one of the top 20 new restaurants in the U.S.

We didn’t order off the menu, rather opted for their Thanksgiving presentation which included all the traditional offerings mostly locally grown and supported by Evans’ restaurant garden that confirms his pastoral roots and commitment to fresh. Only one of our party chose the free range turkey while others opted for the Gulf flounder, shrimp/crab or even the vegan dish. Me? The Akaushi steak of Kobe fame, red skin mash potatoes all slathered with a red wine jus with mushrooms, country ham and green onions was my choice though I did look longingly at the quail with an enticing jalapeƱo sausage dressing and green tomato golden raisin chutney. I ultimately made the right choice that day and though only a snapshot of Haven’s potential, enjoyed what may have surprisingly been one of my top five dining-out experiences.

Dr. Linda made two outstanding wine selections that pleased everybody’s palate. Following the meal Chef Evans made our dining experience even more memorable by taking his bows and accepting the accolades of our very pleased party. Well done Chef Evans… Server Brad was equally competent.

Now, this post was never intended to be a review of Haven, but this restaurant will please all, even the most discriminating gastronome. Haven won’t hit a home run every time nor will they please everybody all the time, but in my estimation they do have the potential to please most of the people the great majority of the time. There are agenda driven whiners everywhere that seem to grasp even potential negatives and spin that top incessantly. Several reviews pounded Haven for their valet service and their open kitchen environment – ridiculous. Would that we were so lucky to have Haven in Dallas…

So how do you top Haven? Take a daytrip to the absolutely awesome world class Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) punctuated by the ultimate realization that we in Dallas will always be looking up at MFAH. The King Tut exhibition was ongoing with equal attention being paid to the current spectacular presentation of Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection that includes masterworks by Rembrandt, Gerrit Dou, Frans Hals, Willem Claeszoon Heda, Jacob van Ruisdael and Jan Steen. This national tour sponsored in part by the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, MA concludes with the current exhibition at MFAH which runs through February 12, 2012 so make your plans to visit Houston, soon. Thank you Peabody Essex Museum who from August 29, 2010 to January 2, 2011 also brought to the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth the very important, “Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea.” We need to pay attention to those folks in Massachusetts who are friendly to our environs.

Having sung some of these well-deserved praises just note that Houston’s roads suck big time and instead of getting better seem to lower the bar each visit. One source described Houston’s roads as “tattered, cracked, patched and pocked washboard.” We think that source didn’t go far enough. No amount of compliments can mask the fact that this city’s transportation infrastructure seems compromised and with no checkbook to fix their city roads most of the money seems tied up in Interstate widening that is off and sometimes on and seems to go on forever resulting in frustrating, dangerous and hours long delays that will cramp the style of even the most patient and ardent.

That said, we will go back and enjoy the nectar of one of the world’s great cities and the great company we keep. It’s worth the hassles and frustrations, especially to lovingly, exuberantly and proudly celebrate the continuing saga of Charlie.

Hope you had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.


GrandNed Buxton

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