“It’s a place we’d want to go ourselves all the time.” That’s the simple definition of The Pass & Provisions  that chef/partner Terrence Gallivan.
After seeing what Gallivan and chef/partner Seth Siegel-Gardner have realized in their conversion of the former Gravitas space, I can understand his feelings. It’s a place a lot of people will want to go all the time.
After what seemed like ages building up to the opening of their restaurant, Gallivan and Siegel-Gardner are now the proud owners of something very special on the Houston culinary landscape. Not only is The Pass & Provisions a visual knockout, it boasts a menu that is sure to lure every food savvy person into its beautiful doors.
For now, only the casual Provisions side, and the bar, of this dual dining experience is open. (Resevations are being accepted for Sept. 17.) The Pass, the chefs’ high-end dining experience, is expected to bow in about five to six weeks.
It’s not only a smart way for the chefs to ease into their kitchen and operations, it gives foodies a chance to properly digest the intelligent list of cocktails, wine, beer and, of course, food.
As for the latter, the Provisions menu is a delight. When is the last time you saw a guanciale and arugula pie topped with fresh uni? Or pasta shells with mortadella Bolognese and pistachio gremolata? Or kimchee pan au lait served with a warm egg yolk and cheese?
“We want people to jump around,” Gallivan said of the menu. “We want them to just try a bunch of stuff.”
That stuff includes a suckling pig for two; a daily ham selection with rye aioli; beef short ribs with bone marrow vinaigrette; a changing selection of oysters; whipped lardo challah with cheese and bacon paste; roasted branzino over a mussel/parsley/ginger soup; harissa-flavored bucatini with Gulf shrimp, guanciale and broccoli; and a whole roasted lobe of foie gras meant to share with your closest friends.
The chefs were determined to make pizza, and their wood-burning oven is turning out the city’s poshest blistered beauties: potato with taleggio and roasted garlic; mushroom with truffle and fontina; cured meats with tomatoes, basil and black olive oil; burrata and “burst” tomatoes; and the weird/wonderful cured pork jowl and sea urchin.
Not all the surprises are on the menu. There are so many clever physical details, such as old Gravitas tables that were used to panel the staircase and walls of the entryway. The old Antone’s sign (the space was the Antone’s Po’Boy store before Gravitas) has been lovingly restored and hangs in Provisions. Chairs, lighting fixtures, tabletops, bar furnishings, and patio furniture are all stamped with thoughtful, intelligent design.
The bar area features a large 16-seat communal table and a bar with 10 stools where customers can order all manner of drinks with bubbles: cider, beer and champagne and cava.
The Pass, which will seat 36, is envisioned as an intimate dining room with sweeping views into a working kitchen. There will be only one seating per night for the prix-fixe tasting menus. “We’re not turning tables. It’s yours for the night,” Siegel-Gardner said.
When the entire operation is up and running, diners will be treated to two distinct restaurants with their own personality, aesthetic and menu. The casual neighborhood joint and the luxe, super-sophisticated restaurant.
Siegel-Gardner called it the best of both worlds. We’re calling it a place we’d want to go ourselves. All the time.
The Pass & Provisions: 807 Taft St., 713-628-9020; passandprovisions.com .