Estancia features Latin cuisine
Estancia: Grill has great food, subtle ambience
By Maurice Bobb
Daily Cougar Staff
Well, my fellow patrons of palatable provisions, it's summertime and
your food critic is here to continue filling you in on the latest and greatest
in the world of
cuisine. So all of you who aren't hiking through Europe or visiting
family in other locales and are stuck in the doldrums of summer school,
but hey, at least you'll be one step ahead of the fast-food junkies who
roam our great city.
Brian Viney/The Daily Cougar
Estancia Grill, located on West Gray Street between Montrose
Boulevard and Taft Street, is chef Greg Webb's third attempt at the restaurant
business. The grill's intimate atmosphere and creative food, as well as
moderately priced lunch specials, provide it with plenty of ingredients
It's amazing how many cafes and restaurants are popping up all over
Houston. At this rate, I may never be out of a job. It seems my pants are
bigger for the benefit of research, but that's another issue entirely.
We begin with Estancia Grill, a cafe of modern Latin cuisine located
at 414 W. Gray St. between Montrose Boulevard and Taft Street. This relatively
has the kind of food that will certainly satisfy that skeptical palate
The different Latin dishes are an extension of chef Greg Webb's saucing
and smart seasoning. Webb brings a kind of checkered past of failures with
headed the kitchens of three different restaurants that have failed
within the last three years. But at Estancia, Webb has created a menu that
Originally fashioned as an Argentine grill, Estancia shifted gears with
Webb's arrival and found a niche with its new modern Latin focus. Webb's
well with Estancia's new direction, so this venture bodes well for
Restaurants of this size typically cater to each diner with slow, detailed
service -- if you're in a rush, shovel down a few nuggets at the golden
arches. I started with
the complimentary garlic croutes and a bowl of chimichurri, a parsley-garlic-olive
oil spread popular in Latin America. The adventurer in me opted for an
of camarones diablo, which consists of three jumbo shrimp marinated
with five chiles, diced tomato, lime, garlic and Mezcal. My taste buds
were on fire, but happy.
For the main event, I ordered the coriander-crusted chicken breast,
which is stuffed with pineapple and cheddar cheese and topped with a jack
cheese sauce. It
was so good, I think I may have eaten the decorations on the plate.
You can bet the dishwasher's job is fairly easy at this place.
As I sat back and let my meal charter the depths of digestion, I took
in the subtle ambience of the mustard-colored walls, the distinctive artwork
and the cherry
wood chairs that give the place an important, but humble and quiet,
feel. Next, I ordered the torte Maria for dessert. Let me make clear here
that it was only for your
benefit that I indulged. I mean, what's a meal without dessert?
Now that I've thrown my disclaimer out there, I have to tell you that
you can't miss the torte Maria, a caramel/fudge cheesecake. It's rich,
it's creamy and it's
practically sinful -- but you deserve it, right?
Overall, this grill gets high marks. Estancia has the good sense to
offer a discounted lunch menu from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday,
lighter-pocketed crowd -- like those of us burning money in the tuition
machine -- to enjoy the finer points of dining. Only time will tell if
Estancia will fare better than
the previous two restaurants did in the same location. But if the menu
is any indication, Webb and company may have finally found a winner.