New menu, concept unveiled at Back Table Restaurant & Kitchen in Woodlands

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A familiar face to local diners and foodies whose past culinary creations have delighted township taste buds returns to The Woodlands to run the new Back Table Kitchen & Bar at Woodlands Resort.

Executive Chef David Morris, a well-known national culinary figure who helped open the old Robard’s Steakhouse, has been in the township for a year developing the concept and menu for Back Table – a new restaurant featuring a mix of Southern and Texas cuisines using local ingredients.

Located adjacent to the 18th hole of the resort’s golf course, the newly designed indoor-outdoor space opened the first week of June and offers guests stunning views as well as a robust menu of food and drink, featuring showcasing local ingredients and artisanal libations.

Morris said the downtime due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting changes in the restaurant and restaurant industry during and as the pandemic comes to an end have enabled him, as well as others, to rethink meals and design the Back Table concept.

“We looked at this project several months ago as an idea and a loose conversation, and when I started approaching it I started with around 200 articles. (The creation of the menu) was all about where I had been, the road trips, several years of dining and understanding that the creative vision for this was around southern hospitality and charm, a place where you feel welcome, ”Morris said. “At the same time, to be unique, interesting and stimulating… not to be a typical restaurant. I wanted to create an environment that was going to be stimulating. I didn’t want labeled foods, I wanted it to be a wide variety of interesting and well-prepared foods.

Kelly McCourt, Marketing Director for The Woodlands Resort, said resort management and senior managers at parent company The Howard Hughes Corp. were excited to offer a fresh approach to resort guests and diners.

Described by resort officials as a “laid-back, festive, family-friendly gathering place for southern-inspired seasonal fare with global accents in a self-contained building,” the 5,413-square-foot waterfront site features an 800-foot patio. square feet overlooking the 18th green of the Panther Trail golf course.

The new restaurant has a games room with various entertainment, bar games as well as generous large-screen TVs with a variety of sports and other programs. Diners can sit at the bar or opt for a more casual high table in the bar. There is also an additional dining room for larger parties.

In a May statement, Gregg Harper, general manager of The Woodlands Resort, said the facility had been “reinvented to capture the charm and aesthetics of the South Coast.”

Varied menu

Morris provided The Villager with a course in sampling the new menu, discussing each dish in depth and his ‘manifesto’ type approach to leading a kitchen team that creates world-class dishes with care and attention to detail.

For the braised beef ribs, served with Butterball potatoes and an umami-pepper green pepper sauce, Morris described how the cooks braise the ribs for three days, noting, “You want everything fat and these proteins relax “.

One non-local menu item is King Salmon from New Zealand, prepared with a five-day dry aging, Morris said. The fish are transported fresh within 24 hours of capture, he added.

“It’s the best salmon on the planet, in my opinion,” Morris said. “We literally get them to the dock in 24 hours. “

There are also Southern classics, such as a two cheddar – aged for 18 months and three years – mixed to create a chili cheese dip served with dumpster seed flatbread crackers; folded butter-stuffed eggs topped with homemade bacon and a homemade beef chicharron and hot peppers; and shrimp and porridge with regional cereals, Gulf shrimp and pork ears.

“You can’t call yourself ‘Southern’ without shrimp and grits,” Morris laughed. “When I was theorizing this, I had heard the stories of (chefs) working on a sauce for 15 hours. I wanted to use real stone ground grains from Anson Mills, I wanted to use Gulf shrimp from my stay in New Orleans. I wanted to use authentic products… to organize everything and now build the recipe. It’s really fun.”

Other specialties include a charcuterie platter with jalapeño jelly, jams, selected cheeses, and gourmet Tennessee ham, similar to Spanish Jamon; staff make their own pickles and donuts on site; an Asian touch can be found with a dish of Tennessee Tonkatsu ramen with pork confit; and a range of burgers and special snacks like Vietnamese fried bologna and oxtail chili dog are available.

Morris said the local version of a French-Canadian classic, the idea of ​​duck jus poutine, was first introduced to him by another staff member at the resort.

“The poutine comes from Scott Spann, our vice-president, and his wife, Dawn, she’s Canadian. I didn’t know what poutine was, to be honest. it’s so simple, cheese curds, gravy and fries, ”he added. “I laughed a bit, because I was trying to make it too complicated. I wasn’t sure he would make the 200 item cut, but of course he made the cut.

Travel-influenced dishes

Morris said he used several years of culinary adventures across the country to refine his ideas for the menu and deliver them to diners. One of the main goals is to make the food tasty, fun and thoughtful at the same time, he added, noting that his team of cooks, waiters and chefs share a team mentality.

“Over the past four to five years, I have traveled across the country. Through this process, from Arizona to Los Angeles, to Seattle, Texas, to New Orleans and all the way down the East Coast, there are little places along the way that are the memories. It was this simple, great food, ”Morris said of his thought process. “I took this adventure and (theorized) on big papers hanging on the wall… I wrote, ‘where and’ why and if this was something we could perform. ‘

The new restaurant can seat 170 diners in total in the bar and dining areas, as well as another 60 to 70 diners in the back porch area. The restaurant is open seven days a week with varying opening hours. Bar service and snacks and small plates starts at 4 p.m. daily with dinner service from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“In the evening, the bar service and snacks and small plates will continue until 10 pm Sunday to Thursday and until 11 pm Friday and Saturday,” said Paola Raull McMaken, spokesperson for the restaurant. “Lunch and brunch are coming. Starting June 18, happy hour will be held daily from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Morris said he was familiar with the space, noting he was part of the original chef team in 2014 when Robard’s first opened. Robard’s closed in 2020 and now Morris is excited to bring his own unique vision to the restaurant.

“There is a story behind everything in the current menu. We don’t cook a burger, we make our own blend of certified Angus beef… there is a story behind every dish, ”he said. “We are aware of the potential in the spring and fall when the weather is sublime, I am aware that we will be overwhelmed by the guests.”

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