B & B Butchers, an instant hit with the steakhouse set when it opened in 2015, now has a less pricey, but no less inspired, sister restaurant across the street.
Pucker up and say hello to BB Lemon, Houston’s latest homage to traditional diner and comfort food. Comparisons to The Classic, recently opened on the opposite end of Washington Avenue, may be inevitable. But the two restaurants comfort in very different ways.
If The Classic’s big windows and soothing palette whisper “Santa Monica,” then BB Lemon recalls a venerable, pubby neighborhood joint in the Bronx.
Like its namesake fruit, BB Lemon requires a tight squeeze to get in and around. A narrow entry brings you directly into the bar, with its suited-up bartenders. There are two dining areas, small and sunny in front, larger and less so in back. I personally love the masculine décor and cozy layout.
I also like how BB Lemon’s more retro menu items stay that way. A Corned Beef and Cabbage platter with boiled potatoes looks just like an East Coast family dinner and was a surprisingly popular choice on my visit.
It was a cold day, certainly, but that didn’t stop a party at the bar from chowing down on a dozen oysters on the half shell, nicely presented on a multi-layer stand.
BB Lemon’s take on Shepherd’s Pie is a beauty too. Served in cast iron, the perfectly coppered mashed potato peaks top a rich meaty filling beneath — vaguely curry, vaguely sweet. It’s a generous serving, easily leaving you enough for a doggy bag.
And I’m ready to declare the BLT the best anywhere. The bacon itself is the same small batch, thick cut, artisanal pork used at the mother ship, and there’s plenty of it. Beefsteak tomatoes are juicy, and the toasted bread is crispy nirvana. You’ve just got to try it if you can bear to bite into its splendor.
I thought I just had to try the Bacon Parmesan appetizer. It’s a clever idea in theory — bacon, instead of chicken or eggplant, is breaded with Parmesan cheese and served with a tangy marinara. In practice, it’s… odd. The bacon, so tender in the sandwich, is fried to slate here. Hard to cut into, awkward to eat.
Now with all the buzz about the burgers using a beef blend direct from the steakhouse, we thought they would be the star of this show. And in time I’ve no doubt they will be. But on this visit, they were only bit players. Sure, the beef was high quality, but when ordered medium rare and served well and truly dead, tears flowed as if at a wake rather than a command performance.
Onion Rings (Strings?) were soggy and rubbed a considerable amount of salt into the wound.
If you’re excited to try BB Lemon now, please do. There’s plenty to love already, including the Lemonhead candy you get with your check. But if you give it a couple more weeks to iron out a few wrinkles, I think it’ll be worth the wait.