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First Look at Zimm’s Little Deck

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?

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About John DeMers

I've been a journalist and author forever. My favorite single word in the English language is "foodandwine." This spirit drives my 45 published books and my weekly radio show heard in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

One response »

  1. Zimm’s Little Deck serves up seafood, sandwiches and gumbo in an atmosphere reflecting New Orleans charm. With its French posters, flickering gas lights, bentwood chairs, outdoor fireplace and large outdoor pétanque court, Zimm’s Little Deck offers a friendly and casual vibe with down-home dishes. The Zimmerman clan refers to this venue a fancy ice house, for my wife Penny and I, Zimm’s Little Deck is much more than that.

    Based on popular Cajun cuisine from “po’ boys” to “rich boys,” Zimm’s Little Deck serves up seafood, sandwiches and gumbo. But what else would you expect from a “fancy” icehouse complete with a broad selection of craft beers and “cheap, decent or good” wines.

    Sit inside with a group, or alone at the bar. Zimm’s Little Deck adds fun to the food with a pétanque court in front of the establishment. The vaulted ceilings and crown moldings brought an “old world” ambiance to the building. Outdoor patio seating and wide French doors means you can watch the world go by, or enjoy the game of pétanque as it is played.

    What is pétanque? It is similar in nature to Italian bocce or English lawn bowling where two teams compete against each other to roll a ball closest to the “goal” both through direct rolls and those that knock the ball of the opposing team away from their goal.

    Brothers Mark and Dan Zimmerman admit to learning to love this sport from a young age as they first learned how to play it while visiting family in France. Zimm’s Little Deck’s ambiance makes it a favorite venue for our French-speaking group, le RDV Français, which meets there on a regular basis.

    Chef Jeramie Robison draws on fresh Gulf seafood and his Louisiana roots (and some produce from his family farm) to create hearty gumbos, shrimp rémoulade and croque monsieur hushpuppies. But the stand-outs here are the fried oyster and shrimp poor boys and their “rich boy” cousins like the Long Island quack: duck thigh confit with arugula and seasonal fruit preserves stuffed into a crunchy baguette. Specialty drinks include hurricanes and gin fizzes, but there’s a decent wine list and plenty of craft beers on the bar list as well.

    Gulf oysters on the half shell are cold and briny and carefully opened, their only drawback being the cost at $17 per dozen, guaranteed to produce sticker shock among Houstonians and making a dozen on the half shell a major splurge. While the restaurant’s small plates (items like Croque Monsieur balls and fried calamari) are great, the po’ boys are wanting. But there’s no shortcoming here that couldn’t be fixed with relative ease.

    Unique truly is the word to describe Zimm’s Little Deck, from dining and drinking to entertainment. You can choose from icehouse/seafood bar to “home cooked” Cajun cuisine; visit with friends or dine alone there is something here for every taste and age.

    Reply

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