The gulf coast inspires much of Houston’s Southern cuisine. It’s not uncommon for restaurants to have a new spin on traditional Southern dishes, and that’s exactly what Bernadine’s accomplishes. With communal bench style seating, or more intimate seating with dim lighting, perfect for couples, you can choose your ambiance. From the starters to the desserts to the clientele, the prevailing theme is freshness.
For starters there is an order of sweet and tangy smoked ribs garnished with sorghum popcorn and grilled strawberries. Or you can order the chargrilled oysters with garlic and parmesan cheese. The ribs were very well cooked, tender and smoky while the BBQ sauce, strawberries, and popcorn flavors and textures contrast perfectly. Lightly seasoned with butter garlic and parmesan, the oysters freshness and juiciness is highlighted, as opposed to other grilled oysters that are as only as good as the toppings.
The Gulf Snapper entrée was served skin-on with light seasoning accompanied with sweet potato cacio e pepe or cheese and pepper on sweet potato noodle slivers on top of lemon herb ricotta and topped with toasted almonds. The gulf snapper’s freshness anchored the dish and was seasoned by the sweet potato and the lemon herb ricotta to make for a multitude of textures and a nice blend of flavors in this eccentric take on seared snapper. The Cochon de Lait Au Presse was also lightly seasoned, served over a bed of dirty farro that mimicked red beans and rice with a side of sautéed Swiss chard topped with Creole mustard vinaigrette, and garnished with a pork rind. This dish was a favorite, a bit more filling than the snapper, and a really interesting take on red beans and rice, mixed with the vinaigrette on the Swiss chard and topped off with a pork rind to make the piece of Southern folklore complete. These flavors blended together to form a unique taste that can only be likened to upscale soul food.
The desert selection continues the Gulf Coast freshness theme with citrus elements. Oeufs a la Neige or the torched meringue with orange crème anglaise, candied kumquat, and almond brittle makes for a perfect dissonance in this dish. The saltiness of the brittle, the sweetness of the anglaise and meringue, and the freshness of the kumquat fits perfectly in this dinner. Even though the meringue is excellent it is upstaged by the blood orange upside down cake, buttermilk ice cream and fennel meringue. The blood orange upside down cake is perfectly prepared, and with a scoop of ice cream to pair with it, Bernadine’s brings the meal full circle from starters to deserts with fresh ingredients that shine through in these dishes.