2009 saw an interesting new addition to the dining scene in the Woodlands – the opening of Tesar’s Modern Steak House. John Tesar, the proprietor, was born in New York, learned his skill in Paris, and has been owner and/or chef at a variety of great restaurants across the nation, including 44, X Hell’s Kitchen, rm seafood, and Dallas’s famed Mansion on Turtle Creek. He relocated to the Woodlands, and his Modern Steak House is the embodiment of his philosophy and what he has learned in these fine restaurants.
Tesar’s is without a doubt a fine dining establishment, but we came for another reason – the burgers. We’d heard a rumor of some great things going on, and when a friend suggested a trip to investigate, we jumped right in.
The restaurant is situated right in the middle of the Woodland’s bustling downtown area, across the street from the Mitchell Pavilion and Market Street. There are two rooms; the main dining room and a slightly less formal bar, which was the venue for today’s meal.
Our helpful and chipper waiter presented the menus, and we were faced with a dilemma: Tesar’s has some very diverse burgers, and they all sounded interesting. To make matters more perplexing, your choice of grain-fed and grass-fed beef can be selected. But decisions had to be made.
We began with the purist’s choice: The Magic. A half-pound of thickly hand-formed freshly ground sirloin, topped with a thick slice of cheddar cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, some nice sweet lettuce, and a slice of tomato. The bun was unusual; an artisanal English muffin.
The burger is well named — the result is magic. The beef came out perfectly cooked, with a beautiful pink interior and a nicely charred surface. The moderately sharp chedder made its presence known but didn’t overpower; this burger is all about the high-quality beef. The bacon added a soulful, smokey overtone, and a satisfying bit of chewiness. The English muffin, which seemed like a curious choice, turned out to be an ideal foundation for this creation, and the veggies provided just enough crispness to complete the package.
What was interesting was what was left out: Pickles, onions, and any sort of sauce. John Tesar is a modern culinary Picasso — he expertly eliminated what was not necessary, and what remained is a masterpiece.
There were many thoughtful touches that surrounded this creation: A very tasty caesar salad that begun the meal, beautiful cherry tomatoes on the side, and some decadent desserts. But for us, everything paled next to this magnificent burger, which we feel justified as declaring one of the very Best Burgers in Houston… even though it’s in the Woodlands.
For a burger this good, the half-hour drive is well worth it.
Tesar’s Modern Steak and Seafood | 1701 Lake Robbins Drive | The Woodlands 77380 | 281-465-0700 | www.tesars.com