We received an interesting tip this week about a new place that had opened on Kuykendahl, a couple of miles south of the Woodlands. Called South Street Dining, it's an ambitious new restaurant located in a strip center in Tomball.
We drove down yesterday for lunch, and almost missed the place. From the outside, it's unremarkable, although there is a pleasant deck overlooking the parking lot. But once you open the heavy wooden doors, you're in for a surprise.
Inside you'll find a gorgeous, upscale dining room, finished in woods and natural stone, decorated in soft hues of taupe and tan, elegantly lit and very inviting. A slightly more casual bar area is to the left, with flat screens showing various sporting events. It's a very inviting interior, and considerably more elaborate than we expected.
It was also cold. We decided to lunch on the patio, enjoying the gorgeous Spring day in Texas. We visited for a late lunch, and there were only a handful of patrons scattered throughout the establishment.
Iced tea appeared promptly, and our waiter offered to bring us some bread. The bread service was simple but quite good, warmed french and herb bread, served with two flavored butters - honey cinnamon and chipotle. The bread was very good, and the attention to detail boded well for the upcoming meal.
Now on to the entree. We scanned the lunch menu, and noticed a variety of burgers, sandwiches, and some more ambitious beef, chicken, and fish entrees. Our eyes locked on to the chicken-fried steak, offered with some interesting sides, including garlic mashed potatoes and fried corn fritters. Very southern. Having found one of our very favorite chicken-fried steaks at Tomball's Goodson's Cafe, we ordered.
After a brief wait, the dish appeared. It was plated tall; the mashed potatoes served as an easel for the chicken-fried steak, and the dish was garnished with parsley and an odd, blue corn tortilla chip. Artistic, but somewhat awkward.
We cut into the chicken-fried steak, and applied a bit of the brown gravy. The steak was flavorful and not terribly overcooked, but the breading was a bit soft. The housemade brown gravy had a lush bacon flavor and a rich fatty texture; it was miles ahead of the white gravy served with most CFS plates. The size of the steak was good but not overwhelming; a nice choice for lunch, when taking leftovers is often not an option. This wasn't the best CFS we've ever tasted (or even in the top ten) but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
Less successful were the mashed potatoes. They were whipped, smooth, creamy, but nearly flavorless. We'd venture a guess that they came from a box; there was no sign of any skin or chunks of potato in the smooth presentation.
The corn fritters (also served with a garnish of corn chips) were a bit better; soft yet slightly gritty, with a gentle corn flavor coming through the fried surface. We kept finding ourselves drawn back to them as the meal progressed.
All in all, we enjoyed our visit to South Street. Clearly, the owners are planning something ambitious here. The interior is beautiful, the service is friendly, and the food is generally good. We don't think the kitchen currently lives up to the promise of the marketing or the decor, but we still found the experience to be quite enjoyable.
We'd recommend the spot for either a date or an outing with friends, and we plan to return in the future.
South Street Dining
24914 Kuykendahl Road
Tomball, TX 77375-3381