FM 1960 is a conundrum for foodies. Driving along the road you'll pass dozens and dozens of restaurants, but very few that are on the radar for Houston's notoriously loop-centric foodie community.
So what is a suburban foodie to do? Venture off the beaten path, and try someplace new.
Our latest discovery is Le' Pam's House of Creole, a small, tidy restaurant located in an unassuming strip center just west of 1960 and Ella. We'd been hearing rumblings from member of the Woodlands Area Foodies group about great food from Le' Pam's, so we looked forward to investigating.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by the friendly, professional counter staff. The aroma of creole spices filled the air, and we perused the menu board to consider our choices.
"Don't look at the menu." said a musical voice. It turns out it was from Miss Pam, aka Chef Pamela Graham, the powerhouse behind Le' Pam's. Her husband, Lee, was manning the register. Miss Pam is a force of nature - a classically trained chef who was raised in the kitchen and has the love of food you find of a native of New Orleans... or Houston.
"Today is Sunday dinner. Here's what I'm cooking." Miss Pam ran down a list of enticing options, but two items stood out for us: Shrimp and Grits, and what Miss Pam calls her Trio.
The Trio is an enticing marriage of three delicious parts.
The base is a dark, lush, rich example of the Louisiana favorite, dirty rice. Miss Pam's version is darker, moister, and more flavorful than any we can remember sampling. Miss Pam's creole seasonings carried a subtle heat that accented rather than overpowered; it was a masterful example of restraint delivering a delicious result.
Next is a breaded, perfectly fried catfish filet. This is not your run-of-the-mill catfish; it's moist, tender, and delicious. The light cornmeal breading is light and crisp, and the seasoning again accents rather than overpowers.
Topping things off is a crawfish etoufee that's fresh, rich, and an excellent counterpoint to the lush dirty rice and the flavorful fried fish. The result is a very successful dish that we can't wait to eat again.
Our other entree was Miss Pam's take on the iconic dish, shrimp and grits. Large, beautifully sauteed shrimp are served barely al dente. These well-prepared crustaceans are perched atop the creamiest, smoothest grits we've tasted in Houston. I don't know what sort of voodoo Miss Pam uses to prepare these grits, but the result is nothing short of spectacular. These are grits that will delight people who don't normally like grits.
During the meal, members of Le' Pam's staff were back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room ("My living room" says Miss Pam, and the comfortable, homey setting is far more evocative of a living room than a strip center) filling our drinks, and offering to let us sample other delights. We didn't have room for dessert, but Le' Pam's cobblers, bread pudding, and banana pudding are treats we can't wait to sample on our next visit.
FM 1960 has a new destination restaurant. Le' Pam's House of Creole is as warm and inviting as its chef. And the food left us full, but wanting more. We'll be back soon.
Le' Pam's House of Creole | 1644 FM 1960 W | Houston | 281-444-1464