By Jim Ayres
When I visited Doris Metropolitan recently, I was reminded that the space used to house Triniti, an haute cuisine favorite for several years. I became curious about chef Ryan Hildebrand’s next venture.
It’s called FM Kitchen and Bar, it’s located just north of Washington off Shepherd, and it is glorious. Not in a fancy way, but in a scrumptious-food-at-a-fantastic-value way.
Wait a second. Wasn’t FM originally supposed to be on Westheimer at the former Ruggles address? Why, yes. It was. Accounts vary, but the vacant lot stayed vacant.
It doesn’t matter in the end. FM is now doing a booming business in Rice Military, and I know I’ll be adding much to their coffers in 2018.
The building’s a concrete and glass box; decor is best described as Ice House Deluxe. It’s unexpectedly comfortable, though. Chairs are amply padded, and tables are sturdy. A full bar commandeers the northeast corner of the dining room.
If it’s color you’re after, just stay outside. Astroturf abounds, and parents watch kids play a variety of yard games. It’s great for a nice sunny day.
Great for a cold gray day is an off-menu chicken tortilla soup. Chili powder and cayenne give the broth a brute strength, while the chicken is very tender. Avocado and Pico de Gallo make an attractive presentation. It’s one of the best soups I’ve ever had.
I’d heard fries here are basic, so I ordered Hush Puppies as a side for the terrific burger I’ll describe in a minute. While the ones I had at Presidio were studded with corn, these have jalapeno embedded in them. They’re served with two flavors of tartar-y sauce. Avoid both.
But man, that burger! Imagine a typical roadside burger—lettuce, tomato, pickles—elevated with the freshest ingredients, a nicely spiced patty and a potato bun. For purists, it’s burger heaven. Just the right size to grab it by both hands and bite right in!
If all that sounds wonderful, my second visit revealed FM’s true glory. Starting with a house chopped salad, I particularly liked the crunchy peanuts, and the grill-charred onion vinaigrette is something to celebrate. Lots of vegetables show up here, with little lettuce (that’s a plus).
Then I fell into acute, hopeless, supreme food nirvana. I could have been in an opium den, if that den served FM’s Texas Pot Pie. Oh, the sultry filling of smoked brisket, BBQ gravy and vegetables is mighty fine. But what makes this my favorite dish in many years is the cheddar-infused puff pastry topping. It’s huge, like a fresh batch of Jiffy Pop, and each gorgeous, golden layer begs your admiration.
You’ve just got to see it to believe it! And the best thing is, nothing at FM is priced over $14.29 (the cost of the pot pie). Food this good at such reasonable prices is a real find in Houston. I encourage you to find FM Kitchen and Bar soon!
FM Kitchen and Bar
1112 Shepherd Drive
Houston, Texas 77007