The chef made his mark in Houston in 2008 when he opened Voice, bringing national attention to the restaurant in Hotel Icon. He later went on to work at Tasting Room at CityCentre, Felix 55, and most recently was with Compass Group in Houston working in corporate dining for Chevron.
Kramer said Monday he is leaving Houston soon and will be starting his new job the first week of April. In addition to doing development work for the Table 301 (owner Carl Sobocinski is a friend), he will be honing his own restaurant concept for the company that he hopes will be in place within two years. That restaurant probably will include pizza and wood-fired entrees.
“I have turned to a much more simple and rustic concepts,” he said. “I want to do something simple and easy. And I want to be busy every night.”
The Table 301 group has a number of restaurant concepts under its belt, including Soby’s New South Cuising, Soby’s on the Side, Devereaux’s, The Lazy Goat, Nose Dive gastropub, Overlook Grill and Table 301 Catering.
Kramer said the food scene is growing in Greenville: Esquire restaurant critic Joihn Mariani recently wrote an article, “Is Greenville the Next Big Food City of the South?” The city also was appealing to Kramer, an avid cyclist, because it’s a “cycling mecca,” he said.
While he’s looking forward to the move, he said he’s sorry to leave Houston. He’ll be back often, he said because his son Evan lives here. (Kramer recounted his son’s birth, the day after Hurricane Ike.)
He said he’s taking with him fond memories of his chef days in H-town, especially of the heady days of Voice. “When we opened Voice we had such an amazing team of people doing amazing food. They were all a big part of the success of Voice,” he said. “That team doing groundbreaking stuff in 2008 was special – a pretty amazing time.”
After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Kramer worked at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Los Angeles, at Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas with Dean Fearing, and at McCrady’s in Charleston, SC.
In her 3-star review of Voice in 2008, The Chronicle’s Alison Cook began her critique praising the Voice dining room then had this to say about the food:
“None of this would matter if Kramer and his team were not putting out equally beautiful, thoughtful food. It is hard to get worked up about a contemporary cliché like tuna tartare these days, unless it arrives in breathtaking, letter-perfect form, as Kramer's does, livened by a vivid, emerald-green sweep of cilantro purée. So meticulous and melting are the tiny yellowfin squares, so well-considered the seasoning of salt, black sesame, cracked coriander and a smidge of chile oil, that cliché turns classic.
"And what's that pale buff ridge of powder on the plate? It's a magical sesame dust, produced by the cutting-edge kitchen alchemy that Kramer loves (but not overmuch). Tasted straight, this faintly sweet and nutty substance is a brain-expander. Tasted with the tuna squarelets dipped in, it is a dish-expander that shows this chef and his kitchen at their considerable best.
"So does Voice's honey-lacquered duck breast, first deeply smoked and then finished in a pan to crisp the skin. Every last centimeter is a pleasure to consume. The honey component is poised against a black-pepper gastrique, a sweet-sour vinegar reduction that gives the meat a welcome lift. A spring garnish of fresh fava beans and wrinkly morel mushrooms provides context. As duck dishes go, this has few local rivals. And the sweetness never gets out of hand, a mark of real skill.”