There are few restaurants on earth that mention as many things I care for and care about in their name as Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen. Before this weekend’s Delicious Mischief radio taping, however, I didn’t know chef-partner Danton Nix enough to care about him. Now he’s on the good list too – not least because he let me get fried shrimp, oysters and catfish on my seafood platter (pictured above) – instead of the menu’s “choice of two.”
The class-act Museum District space on Montrose doesn’t feel that different from the way it did as O’Rourke’s Steakhouse, before street construction hastened its untimely demise. And long before that, it was Tony Vallone’s original Anthony’s. Now, however, it’s a comfortable-but-nice seafood house with pictures of relatives fishing, shrimping and crabbing all over the walls, be they relatives of Nix himself or of his business partner Kyle Teas, a finance guy who used to be a home developer. The two grew up together in Houston, so it’s hard to tell whose relatives are whose anyway.
One of the best ways to launch a meal here, even if you know a fried seafood platter is to come – and even if you know you’ll choose fried onion rings as one of your two sides – is this oysters tasso. Nix makes his own tasso for the restaurant and, to paraphrase Yogi Bear, it’s better than the average tasso. Less smoky and definitely less dry, it seems the perfect ham to bake atop succulent Galveston oysters.
And of course, Danton’s turns out excellent seafood gumbo. Like most cooks who learned the dish from Cajuns in southwest Louisiana, rather than from Creoles in New Orleans, the gumbo is exceedingly brown. Creoles, influenced by the Spanish, love to add a little bit of tomato, helping the flavor and definitely improving the color. Nix waves the Cajun gumbo flag proudly, with some justification.
One exquisite departure from the norm is Danton’s white chocolate bread pudding. Rather than a thick block cut from a hotel pan, this is a bowl of slices with lots of white chocolate sauce poured all around. No, it’s more like slices in a soup of the sauce. Danton and Kyle shouldn’t be surprised if, the next time I come in, I drain the bowl like it is a soup. You won’t want to leave any in your bowl.