I can confirm that Houston socialite extraordinaire Becca Cason Thrash is stunning in person, taller than I had guessed, and looks great in Alexander McQueen.
How did I get to rub shoulders with such a luminary? It’s simple, darling! I recently enjoyed an evening at Annie. Café Annie, that is.
Opening in 1980 on Post Oak Boulevard, Café Annie has been purring over celebrities — local and international — and well-heeled patrons ever since. With chef Robert Del Grande’s arrival in 1981, Café Annie became a pioneer of the Southwestern style that defined that culinary decade.
Over the years, Del Grande conceived a casual, counter service version of Café Annie that we know as Café Express. He then applied that concept to fresh Mexican food, and Taco Milagro was born (and, oh, how I miss it).
Del Grande’s first love has always been Café Annie, but in 2009 he somewhat clumsily rebranded it as RDG + Bar Annie as a nod to new, post-recessionary times. Everybody still called it Café Annie though, so in 2016, he resurrected the name, now focusing on wood-grilled steaks and fresh seafood.
And those steaks are perfection. As was everything leading up to their arrival. Navigating a sea of luxury cars as I drove up to the front door, the valet staff handled everything with grace. Once inside, a well-appointed foyer gave me a minute to arrange my coat, wallet, etc. before heading upstairs to meet my friend Bill.
He chose a New York strip; I selected a ribeye. Medium rare. We ordered a bottle of Willamette Pinot Noir with pleasant mulled, fruity notes that were perfect for winter. Served promptly and at a proper 65-degree bottle temperature, we enjoyed a glass before our dinner came.
When it did, we were blown away. Bill found a piquant Green Peppercorn Sauce an ideal accompaniment to his steak, while I just wanted an aromatic herbal butter and a dusting of Fleur de Sel. All of these were served by our waiter, not just left at the table. The service at Café Annie is second to none.
In addition to the perfectly cooked, tender steaks, we shared three sides: Pan Roasted Sweet Corn with epazote and lime, Broccolini sautéed in olive oil with garlic and lemon, and Whipped Potatoes with cheese, green onions and beef cracklings. If all these sound divine, let me tell you, they were. We planned on taking doggie bags home. Nope. We found room for all of it.
As well as for dessert. I loved my Fresh Berry Cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Served on top of a crispy biscuit with macerated juices oozing down, a nice pour of Drambuie in hand, it was the perfect end to my meal. Bill raved over his Mixed Berries with sweet cream and macarons. From Café Annie’s selection of fine Ports, he enjoyed a 2009 Taylor Fladgate.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been so enchanted by a restaurant experience. Nearly 40 years since she opened, Annie’s still got it!