Going Beyond the Burger - Brunch at Tesars

April 20, 2010

We make no secret that we think Tesars is one of the best restaurants in the Houston area, and that it stands head and shoulders above its competitors in the Woodlands.  But we have to confess a problem:  We are so taken with Tesars fantastic burgers that it's tough for us to sample other offerings on the menu.  But that changed last Sunday.

We'd heard that Tesars was serving brunch, and we were very curious to see what Executive Chefs Jeramie Robison and Austin Simmons would offer for this popular meal.  So we made our reservations (always a good idea) and headed down.

We were seated, and relaxed enjoying the view and their wonderful iced tea.  Shortly after, our appetizer appeared.

We're generally not big fans of cool soup, but Chef Robison has put a very interesting twist on the classic Spanish Gazpacho.  Centered in the sea of moderately spicy tomato/onion/garlic soup was an island of tangy housemade ceviche - shrimp, fish, several different mild peppers, avocado, and onion.  The flavors danced around each other, each being highlighted while still working together to become greater than the sum of their parts.  This is a superb Gazpacho, and the one by which we'll be measuring others we sample.

After the refreshing soup, we were ready for more traditional brunch fare.  We started south of the border, moving from the Catalan coast to the border towns of Mexico, and delved into the Tesars version of Huevos Rancheros, the staple of the Tex-Mex breakfast.

The presentation was one we'd not seen before.  A base consisting of quadrants of of black beans, pico de gallo, roasted pepper salsa, and guacamole (all housemade) was covered by a crispy corn tortilla, and topped with two fried eggs.  The combination was a study in balance; the rich, earthy flavor of the beans contrasted beautifully with the sharp, fresh taste of the pico, the slow, smoky heat of the salsa, and the smooth, creamy guacamole.  The composition of the dish reflected the kind of care that we've become accustomed to at Tesars; clearly these two young chefs are sweating the details.

Next up was a traditional American breakfast - eggs, breakfast meats, grits, potatoes and toast.  On paper, it sounded similar to the full American breakfast that you can get anywhere.  But what showed up pretty much sums up what's so special about Tesars:

The artfully composed plate included smoked ham, two different types of smoked link sausage, applewood smoked bacon, perfectly prepared eggs, chopped breakfast potatoes cooked with a melange of peppers, coarse-ground cheese grits, and grainy whole-wheat bread.  It was plenty of food for two people, and each component was considerably more interested than we dared expect.

It's as if the chefs at Tesars view every item on the plate as a composer views instruments in a symphony - they must stand alone and yet work together, playing off each other to create a piece that the audience will remember long after the performance.  We've enjoyed many American breakfasts, but we can't recall when we've devoured one where we were singularly impressed by each component on the plate.  We left very happy and very full, and can't wait to try the brunch here again.

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