By: Shilo Urban
Everything has been toned down to a serene simplicity in the formerly vibrant Bailey’s Prime Plus location. Soothing grays and mild lavenders blend with crisp white tablecloths and black leather chairs in the dining room. Subdued elegance abounds.
Overhead, a glistening metallic mobile catches your eye with fishing lures and hand-tied flies dangling from their lines. Columns of chicken wire are filled to the brim with oyster shells near the raw bar -- featuring ice-filled chutes displaying the daily assortment of fresh oysters.
The Freshly Shucked Oysters are a star attraction and priced per piece. They are listed along with their origin and a brief description of the expected flavor profile. For instance, on the day I visited, you could choose from a variety of 12 different types including: Marion Point oysters from Cape Cod Bay, which have a buttery, clean texture and are slightly briny, or Blue Point oysters from Connecticut, which were described as fresh, crisp, firm texture with a sweet aftertaste that sparkles of salinity.
Since my dining companions are not raw oyster lovers, I ordered the Grilled Oysters ($14) instead. These were a beautiful presentation, lined up neatly on a bed of rock salt and red pepper corns. Chef Jon Bonnell explained that these fresh Texas wild oysters were grilled over pecan wood and simmered in lemon, garlic and herb butter with a light topping of Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan. They were amazing and won over the entire table.
The Fried Calamari ($12) was lovely, with two different varieties on display. Traditional crispy rings, as well as fresh and tender slices of Panko-crusted giant calamari, were served with a smoky Ancho chile ketchup (which I would happily buy if they bottled and sold it).
We sampled many of the daily specials including Grilled Idaho Rainbow Trout ($15). Two filets were served skin-side up draped over sautéed haricot vert with herb oil and horseradish red potatoes. Texas Gulf Redfish ($17) was delicious with a hint of spice. The cilantro seared redfish came with a side of jasmine rice and a crunchy chipotle, jicama and red cabbage slaw.
The Rhode Island Dory Piccata ($16) was served over a bed of linguini with baby heirloom tomatoes and a lemon caper butter sauce. Tangy tomatoes were tossed with large caper berries in a citrus sauce and then sprinkled with micro greens. The dory was mild, served pan-fried and skin on.
As if we needed it, I had to sample their Lobster Mac and Cheese. Corkscrew pasta mixed in a rich, brown lobster stock sauce with hunks of lobster meat throughout rather than cheese.
The desserts are all house-made, so you can’t go wrong. Chef Bonnell suggested Nanny’s Lemon Ice Box Cheesecake ($8), and we are glad he did. Prepared in a ring mold, the layered dessert was filled with rich cream cheese and topped with fluffy mascarpone. We also sampled the Bourbon-Glazed Bread Pudding ($8). The bread pudding was dense with raisins and almonds and topped with an oozing, buttery Firestone & Robertson Bourbon sauce. A scoop of house-made vanilla bean ice cream was melting slowly on the side.
While the raw bar highlights oysters, clams, shrimp and crabs, the upscale cocktail bar features a refreshing assortment of specialty cocktails. And the chef’s table offers a private dining experience with a view into the kitchen.
Waters is everything it is cracked up to be. With expectations high, Chef Jon Bonnell did not disappoint. From his expertly trained staff to the sublimely understated decor to the exquisite selection of fresh, wild and sustainable seafood offerings, he has thought of every detail.
By: Shilo Urban