Alison Cook’s dishes of the week, from vegetarian thali to griddle

My recent feeds from Upper Kirby to downtown to EaDo have combined all the meat, all the veggies, and a hunk of awesome pastry.

Keran vegetable thali

Kiran vegetarian thali, including paneer makhen, bhindi masala, and bagar panjan

Alison Cook / Staff

Chef Kiran Verma’s upscale contemporary Indian restaurant is known for its sumptuous proteins, such as duck, crab, lobster and bison. However, I have always been particularly drawn to its ever-growing repertoire of vegetarian dishes, far beyond the usual suspects on the Indian menu.

Since the omicron had me hold back from indoor dining temporarily, and because many Indian dishes travel well on a commute basis, I went online to order a three-choice vegetarian meal that comes with generous servings – plus saffron pulao rice studded with dried fruits, And some raita and a round of paratha, whole wheat bread.

It was hard to choose just three from the menu of 18 dishes. But boy, did my choices make me happy?

I marveled at the delicacy of Bagar Bangan, the soft smoothness of baby eggplant given the delicate nutty lift of sesame seeds and ground peanuts. Spring okra (bhindi masala) kernels are deepened by strips of caramelized red onion and set off with jagged strands of fresh coconut. Paneer Makhni, tender stems of house-made farmer’s cheese in a leafy tomato cream sauce used in Butter Chicken, has enough chili heat to impart sweet flavors of coriander and cardamom.

Kiran is much more expensive than your Indian/Pakistani area favourites. But such dishes make it a rare treat.

User tip: The pier side restaurant is not open after 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Kiran , 2925 Richmond, 713-960-8472

Pine or raisins from Mademoiselle Louise French bakery and cafe

Pine or raisins from Mademoiselle Louise French bakery and cafe

Pine or raisins from Mademoiselle Louise French bakery and cafe

Alison Cook / Staff

Let some people go outside inside a proper French bakery, and they go straight for a chocolate or almond croissant. I’m making a beeline for the swirling swirls of a buttered pastry dough called pain or raisin, or “raisin bread,” which is the deceptively humble name for this classic piece from Vennoiserie.

This soft coil sparkles with a high sheen, with a chipped crisp that feels like burr in your skull, with the pungent sweetness of plump raisins. Add a cup of strong cortado, an espresso brewed to order, and that’s the breakfast of the gods.

I loved the great design and friendly service of this 2 year old downtown venue, located on the corner of Maine and Jefferson.

Don’t leave without one fresh baguette or you’ll regret it later. If you arrive by car, there is a long strip of metered parking along the Jefferson side of the bakery.

Mademoiselle Louise French Bakery & Café, 1725 Main, 346-980-9763

J-Bar-M BBQ Minced Beef Sandwich

Ground Beef Sandwich on Texas Toast from the new J-Bar-M BBQ at EaDo

Ground Beef Sandwich on Texas Toast from the new J-Bar-M BBQ at EaDo

Alison Cook / Staff

It’s been a very long time since I had tasted the brisket created by Restaurant Manager Willow Villarreal when I stopped by his new spot in EaDo over the weekend.

I had to search for a place in the large parking lot when I arrived at noon, and as I walked toward the industrial-chic building, live music came out from the fenced beer garden. It looked like a barbecue fest was going on.

I felt it too, when I got a load of the cavernous interior, the line that came back from the counter, and the zombie cocktail and beer bar that opened both to the dining room and outside.

It’s a far cry from the Villarreal food truck parked behind the Shady Acres dive bar, where I first became a fan. But he and his equally flamboyant partner, charming-faced Jasmine Barilla, are performing as usual in this glamorous setting.

Like the minced brisket in my dreams: a wild tangle of ground beef and density that rarely fits between plates of Texas butter toast. sauce? You don’t need it. Or sliced ​​onions or pickles or jalapenos for that matter. They were just between me and that good beef, that fancy fat, that salty/pepper rub that smokes right into the shell.

J-Bar-M . Grill , 2201 Leyland, 713-534-1024

J-Bar-M BBQ Grill Three Meat Tray (pictured above)

a slice of wet breast meat, cut straight from a shivering board; And one lean, cut off the other end. A rib of pork for nibbling. A jigsaw of homemade jalapeño/cheese sausage slices, with a bite of a strong green chile.

These are the basics I picked for my barbecue lineup, with Villarreal himself heading the Jar-Bar-M chopping block. Down where a colorful constellation flanked the sides below the line of a steam table, Barilla whipped out delicious collard greens, some of the best carrot beans, and items I’ve been craving for the many months as I waited J-Bar-M to open: her cauliflower au gratin and cherry tomato salad .

This is what makes the J-Bar-M so promising. You have high quality meat that came out just as I remembered it, except for the more aggressive salting. Then you have enough personality aspects to bring out the experience more than usual.

It turns out that the cold and fluffy tomato salad is the only thing with rich smoked meats. And broccoli topped with delicious cream, with a few crisp, translucent fried shallots on top, could give any mac and cheese in town a run for the money.

And don’t sleep on Watermelon Ranch Water, it’s all a delicate, pale pink with a floral rim of tequila peeking through.

alison.cook@chron.com

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