They say everything is bigger in Texas. At Icehouse, the only thing big here is the flavor. While still running the ever so popular Kitchenette, chef Nick Hodge opted to open this new establishment after a few childhood memories. An “icehouse” is a small local Texas eatery. Years and years ago, small barn-type houses used to sell large blocks of ice to the public; after all, it can get pretty hot there. The owners of the icehouses realized that they can sell a lot more than just ice; so, they started offering satisfying, home-style food to their clientele. Chef Hodge describes his Icehouse as exactly what he grew up with in Texas. The menu here, is just that with a little more pizazz.
I walked into the restaurant and admired the tiny, rustic dining room: wood floors, picnic tables, a blackboard menu, an antique General Electric fan, a large ceramic sink filled with shellfish, and paper towel dispensers on the walls. I sat at the bar with my two friends in front of the paper towels so we can be well prepared for the feast we are about to endure.
Our friendly host offered us a Michelada, a sort of cesar-beer with worcestershire sauce, home-made tabasco, lime, Maggi (like a Mexican soya sauce), and of course beer. Cesar’s aren’t my thing, by my two buddies enjoyed them very much and had a few that night. We started with the “frito” pie and popcorn shrimp. Since the chef claims he can’t find good frito’s here, he opted to make his own, which works out just fine. The layer of chips are topped with house chili, cheese, and yellow mustard that believe it or not, really makes the dish. The flavors were great, the frito’s didn’t get soggy, and the chili was awesome. One of my favorites of the night was the popcorn shrimp. I loved the crispy sweet coating around the lightly fried shrimp. They are tossed in a little bit of sauce that consists of red wine, honey, and a hint of tabasco. I could have eaten a ton of these.
For round two: short rib teriyaki tacos with green goddess sauce and a jalapeno-daikon slaw; pulled pork taco with home-made (of course) Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, pickled watermelon, spicy pecans with coriander, and oreilles de crisse (pork rinds); and the incredibly popular lobster burrito. All three were winners. The meats in both taco’s were tender, juicy, and simply succulent. The true hero in this course, however was the lobster burrito. Imagine biting into a warm tortilla with corn, chili, black beans, and oh look…a lobster claw! Ya, this was gone in mere moments.
After a short eating intermission, we opted for another course that consisted of a grilled steak burrito, an oyster po-boy, and the brisket sandwich. The steak was tender and was plentifully flavored with roasted poblano chilies, grilled onions, and cheese sauce. The oysters in the po-boy were fried to perfection and seasoned very well. My favorite was the brisket sandwich. The incredibly juicy meat slathered with more Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, topped with bits of raw onions and baby gherkins to cut the sweetness was divine. Finger-lickin’ good!
At this point, I couldn’t eat any more. But then, something happened. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a dessert that seemed unimaginable. So, I ordered it. Chicken-fried peach tart a la mode. So, a slice of peach pie, battered, breaded, fried, with a generous scoop of ice cream. Simply put, this dessert should be illegal. I broke through the crispy fried coating only to reveal the moist, sweet peaches inside. The ice cream is gratuitous, just something unnecessary and necessary at the same time. It was really good.
Icehouse is the new sheriff in town. Its fun, friendly, and the food is great. The terrace is currently covered in snow, but when the summer rolls around, hopefully soon, you’ll find me right outside drinking a cold one and munching on popcorn shrimp. This cool Texas eatery should not be missed.
Icehouse: 51 Roy E (corner St. Dominique)