Many Houstonians have a favorite spot for oysters, casual seafood, cold beer, and live bands in the bay area, south of town.
I’m thinking about Gilhooley’s and Topwater Grill, both in San Leon. Or Tookies in Seabrook. Places you can let your hair down, put on cutoff shorts, make new friends, and suffer any consequences the next day.
Tommy’s Seafood in Clear Lake is not that kind of place. Here you’ll find a buttoned-up, martini crowd in from the golf course or tennis club. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying one of the best seafood meals I’ve had in years.
If you’re coming from Houston, you know how the traffic going to Clear Lake and points south can be. Be patient, don’t rush, and you’ll forget all about it as soon as you set foot in Tommy’s silvery dining room. It’s comfortable and relaxing.
Although I dined with a regular that evening, the stellar staff immediately treated me like one, as well. And after that drive, who could say no to a classic Old Fashioned? Tommy’s use of rye whiskey gives this venerable cocktail a deeply spicy, almost sweet flavor. Garnished not with a twist but a blueberry, the drink put me in the mood for seafood.
A painful inside-the-loop escargot experience (OK… Brasserie 19) is what got my friend to invite me to Tommy’s in the first place. He duly ordered it, and it was remarkable, with herbed garlic butter and Parmesan. At least he said so. You know what I’ve said about cantaloupe, beets, and parsley. You can add escargot to that shortlist.
My calamari appetizer could not have been more perfect. I never knew what “lightly fried” meant until I had this dish. The fact that it was served with house made roasted tomato sauce and chipotle aioli was a double bonus. I finished the platter, but slowly, savoring every morsel.
Crab stuffed mushrooms were another shareable triumph. They way they coddled the tongue matched the moans of delight as they were consumed. We’re talking real lump crabmeat here, baked and then topped with a traditional Pontchartrain sauce of cream, butter, and wine.
I’m not much of an oysters-on-the-half-shell guy, but my friend more than made up for it when he ordered two dozen of the Gulf’s finest. Two. Dozen. He finished them all, saying he couldn’t imagine oysters any fresher. In fact, these particular oysters were harvested at the mouth of the Calcasieu River near Lake Charles, Louisiana, so I’d consider them local.
I think the star of this show was my Stuffed Trout Filet. Inside this magnificent skin-on specimen went a lobster meat dressing (and lots of it). Topped with capers and a lemon butter sauce, its flavor still has me singing Tommy’s praises.
Make your way down to Tommy’s this summer. It’s a sophisticated seafood experience that rivals Oceanaire or Willie G’s at a fraction of the price point. What more could you ask?