By JOHN DeMERS
“The boys wanted to honor their Dad’s New Orleans coonass background with some shrimp and oysters” – that’s how Steve Zimmerman describes the birth of his family’s latest food and drink emporium, called Zimm’s Little Deck and set to open in about two weeks at 601 Richmond. “It’ll be a fun little joint.”
Of course, what Steve Zimmerman sees as a “fun little joint” may be colored by 30 years of operating La Colombe d’Or on Montrose, a European-style boutique hotel (only five suites) and even longer than that operating Zimm’s Wine Bar. All three places, in fact, are pretty much in walking distance of each other. And all three are increasingly showing the influence of Steve Zimmerman’s sons, twentysomethings Dan and Mark.
Up to and perhaps even after the opening of Little Deck, that influence is poking through most remarkably in the new name the restaurant now has within La Colombe d’Or. European tradition may point to close identification between a hotel and its dining room, but more and more restaurants in hotels in America are seeking their own identity. So while the materials are all still being printed, the Houston restaurant long known as La Colombe d’Or is now officially called Cinq.
Cinq, as in French for five. Cinq as in five suites upstairs. And especially, Cinq as in the five senses. New executive chef Jeramie Robison, a Louisiana native who’s put in time at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas as well as alongside David Burke in New York, brings a strong sensibility to his teasing and pleasing all those senses at Cinq. In a far more casual way, he leaps with passion on the “po-boys” and “rich boys” planned for Zimm’s Little Deck. Today’s tasting turned up an incredible fried-shrimp po-boy, plus one rich boy made with North African merquez sausage and another combining beef tenderloin with fried oysters in a lot of luscious beef gravy.
If the Deck’s New Orleans feeling will be profound, so will the link to the Zimmerman’s family’s storied second-home village of St. Paul de Vence in the hills above Nice. Outside the dining room that seats about 48, including around the Carrara marble oyster bar, there will be space for guests to play petanque – the Provencal name for boules or, in Italian, bocce. How many places this side of Provence can you spend the day and night playing petanque while sipping from a cold glass of pastis?