Studewood Gets Its Spaghetti Western

STUDEWOOD GETS ITS SPAGHETTI WESTERN Former chef Robert Gadsby had named his new Heights restaurant after his hometown, in England. But that was so late-last-year. Here’s the latest: Partners Bryan Caswell and Bill Floyd announced Friday afternoon they signed papers to take over the Heights restaurant Bedford and will turn it into a modern Italian restaurant. Think Texas toast meets Tuscan steak, Caswell said. ‘We’re trying to draw the similarities between the rustic-oriented qualities of the Tuscan region with the rustic qualities of the Texas region,’ Caswell said.” Caswell and Floyd own Reef and Little Big’s. [Cook’s Tour; previously on Swamplot]

11 Comment

  • Meatball burrito? Pan dipped in crude oil?
    NO, but if they stick with good cuts of meat, simple seasonings & seasonal produce, one could be anywhere, including a cowboy camp outside Marfa.

  • Reef was a HUGE disappointment the first–and only–time I went there. I don’t understand the hype. Grouper on a bed of mustard greens for $35! Then there’s Little Big’s: how does Mr. Caswell imagine that his burgers are so good that people will sit outside in 100 degree heat to enjoy them? I’ll stick with Ruggles, Mark’s, and for burgers, Lankford Grocery, anyday.

  • Oh, forgot to mention: I don’t think this new–probably prohibitively expensive–Italian restaurant will be better than Collina’s on 19th St. Or any Collina’s for that matter.

  • Oh boy. I have high hopes for the new place, given how good Reef is, and it would be nice to have good Italian foods in the Heights – Collina’s is to Italian food what the Whopper is to a steak.

    Collina’s does a nice job as a neighborhood eatery, and I’d say they are better than the average Italian place in Houston, but that’s not saying much; Houston, like most southern cities, has a real problem with Italian.

  • Mmmmm…cannellini chili?

  • Agreed on both Reef and Little Bigs. At Little Bigs I don’t mind the 100 degrees as much as I hate the chewy buns.

    Wish someone could explain the Reef appeal as well. Much better meals in this town for the same or even a bit less money. Maybe it depends on who is cooking when you go, but the night I was there, everything was bland and uninspired.

  • Reef is a completely sub-par restaurant with trendy appeal and a wall of liquor that never gets used. I hope this rapid expansion of attempted dynasties destroys the attempt of culinary delights in its rebar-based roots.

    Reef is boring food with just enough of Texas twist to keep troglodytes happy. Shiner mussels? Sooo inventive and cutting edge. Mayhaps I could add Sriracha to mayo and make, oh shit main sauce for my shitty sliders. Mind blown. Reef is a forgettable restaurant that has incredible marketing which, undeniably, I have to admit did well for it.

    The only thing foodie culture has bred is a blind obedience to jejune food that is the next be, be seen, and blog about atmosphere. Go start again at taco carts and get your taste buds inline. Tuscan style? We have enough of that in the current architecture landscape to not be reflected in our food. I cannot wait for our future of turrets of meat with A-1 sauce and well vinated dingleberry gimlet.

  • I like Reef because the few times I’ve been there, the meals have been uniformly well prepared with some interesting, subtle choices of seasoning, without being precious in either ingredient choices of presentation (the downfall of many high end restaurants). I don’t mind paying more for fish to know that the restaurant is paying some attention to where it came from, either.

    I think Reef, like a lot of high end restaurants here, gets dinged for failing to follow the Houston trend of offering ridiculously oversized portions – something I see in restaurants in all price ranges, and which frankly gets really tedious and kind of revolting after a while.

    It reminds of a lot of places I’ve eaten in other cities that have much better developed high-end restaurant scenes than Houston. Houston is a great city for eating, but our strength is the cheap and mid-price stuff. Which is fine and I enjoy that, but it’s been really nice to see more high end places appear for the times I want that kind of experience.

    My hat is off to anyone who tries to create that kind of restaurant here; Houstonians are a bit pedestrian in their dining preferences, but there are lots of people who want something different as an option, and I think Reef is serving that need really well (along with Mark’s, Feast, and a surprisingly small number of other restaurants for such a large city).

  • John,
    I think Houstonians are more sophisticated than you think; they don’t like to be bullshitted, which is how I felt after eating at Reef. I’m not interested in huge portions, but I do want good flavor, which was lacking in the FOUR dishes I tried at Reef. Tampico has better seafood all day. (Granted, it’s about as fancy as a typical Exxon station.)

  • The sophistication comment was really just based on the number of interesting foodie restaurants in town given the city’s size – it’s low. Which doesn’t mean Houstonians don’t know good food, or aren’t smart – this is a great town to eat in – just that there’s a type of restaurant which I think has a tougher time in Houston than most big cities, and not because they’re not good restaurants.

    Obviously we disagree about Reef, but that’s neither here nor there. I’ll take it over the incredibly overrated Rainbow Lodge any day, but it’s not as good (I think) as Feast or Mark’s.

    All that said it will be interesting to see what they come up with at Bedford’s location. I am happy to see anyone trying to do something with Italian food here, because the pickings are pretty slim. Hopefully they come up with something good.

  • By the way, I like fancy when I’m in the mood for it – but I’m usually not. I have yet to find an Italian place here, fancy or not, as good as the hole in the wall places with fluorescent lights and checked plastic tablecloths I grew up with. Which is probably just the result of growing up in a place with tons of Italian-Americans. (Geography is also why I grew up with no idea what the difference between good and bad Mexican food was, unless it was extremely good or totally awful.)