Houston: Rainbow Lodge

What happens when an avant-garde chef throws in with an old-guard restaurant? Love, May–December style. The junior partner is chef Randy Rucker, 29, once a dabbler in molecular gastronomy at his now-defunct Laidback Manor. The senior partner is the Rainbow Lodge, a 32-year-old dining establishment that seems all but reborn. If the Texas heat allows, sit on the deck under towering trees. Or stay cool inside the sprawling historic log cabin. You might start with Rucker’s refreshing carpaccio of local spring lamb rolled around watercress beside a puddle of crème fraîche. For an entrée, consider the bay leaf–tinged venison loin crusted with resinous ground cubeb peppercorns and accessorized by a bracing “marmalade” of yellow and brown mustard seeds zapped with honey. Sensible folks finish with the Texas cheese plate (including gems like Veldhuizen’s Bosque Blue), while thrill-seekers bliss out on the croissant bread pudding, slapped silly with bourbon caramel.

Rainbow Lodge 2011 Ella Blvd., Houston (713-861-8666; rainbow-lodge.com)



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