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Eagleford Restaurant offers fine dining; cook shares recipes for holiday

By Jessica Rodrigo
Sept. 26, 2012 at 4:26 a.m.

Executive chef Sam Hess, 32, at the Eagleford Restaurant in Cuero said the menu includes traditional steakhouse fare with overtones of New Orleans. He spent many years cooking in the Big Easy and said his favorite dish is the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp.

Executive chef Sam Hess, 32, at the Eagleford Restaurant in Cuero said the menu includes traditional steakhouse fare with overtones of New Orleans. He spent many years cooking in the Big Easy and said his favorite dish is the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp.

Planning for the Eagle Ford Shale didn't happen overnight. Planning for the Eagleford Restaurant didn't either.

About a year ago, David Pipkin, with partner George Bishop, bought a building on Cuero's busy Esplanade Street. They renovated what was formerly known to the locals as The Landmark, to house a upscale restaurant capable of hosting private parties and events. It opened for service in July.

"With all the activity in Cuero, we felt there was a need for a fine dining restaurant," Pipkin, 52, said. "We plan on being here a long time."

Following in the footsteps of DeWitt County's recent development of the Eagle Ford Shale, the owners decided to piggyback off the idea of the area's recent success.

So many landowners in the area are now feeling the boom from the gas and oil industry, he said, and they should be able to enjoy that.

Taking the helm of the kitchen, executive chef Sam Hess explained what he was excited about at the Eagleford.

"It was an irresistible challenge coming up here to cut out a fine dining restaurant where there hasn't really been one before," he said, adding that the nearest restaurant offering a similar style of cuisine might take people out of town, even to Houston or San Antonio.

Since work on the restaurant began earlier this year, Hess, 32, has been looking for purveyors of local seafood and produce. He's found shrimpers in Matagorda "that are as passionate as their catch as we are about our food."

The hard work has paid off in the form of meticulously plated entrees, sauces cooked to please a trained palate and what he hopes is a dining experience unlike any in the area.

Hess describes the cuisine of the Eagleford Restaurant as traditional steakhouse fare with overtones of New Orleans. Having spent a lot of time cooking in the Big Easy, the plates reflect those flavors and styles found in the southern region, including seafood gumbo and his favorite dish on the menu, the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp.

"It reminds me of New Orleans," he said.

Continuing to build on the restaurant's menu, the Eagleford Restaurant added lunch to its repertoire in September. Lunch offers diners a more casual setting with sandwiches, light salads and, what Hess calls "over-the-top burgers."

"I care deeply about each plate that goes out. I want people to leave here satisfied," he said.

With the holidays around the corner, people will be slaving in the kitchen, just as Hess does at the Eagleford, creating meals for friends and gatherings. He shared a few recipes with The Magazine of the Golden Crescent that he says others can re-create at home, as long as they know how to boil water to make mashed potatoes. The Eagleford will also offer a similar, but more complex, rendition during the holidays.

"It's a comforting meal with balanced flavors," he said. "This is an easy, but special alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving plate."

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