feed the beast

Houston’s Enduring Eats: Clementine’s Restaurant Is a Delicious Suburban Secret

by Annie Bulloch Posted: 09-18-15 | 2 years ago
Clementines-sign-featured-image-825x472
Photo Credit: Annie Bulloch / Hype Houston This little place gives some life to Houston's 'burbs.

In our Enduring Eats series, Annie Bulloch explores Houston-area restaurants that have been in business for 30 years or more.

When Elias Deek opened Clementine’s Restaurant and Banquet Facility on FM 1960 in 1977, the road was still a two-lane farm-to-market road in what was almost a rural area. These days, 1960 is a massive thoroughfare with an amount of traffic that is notable even by Houston standards. I’ve driven past Clementine’s many time over the years, but never took note of it before, as it’s set back from the street a bit in a nondescript shopping center. Now that I’ve eaten there, I might brave 1960 more often to go back for more.

Clementine's chicken fried chicken
Spoilers: this article contains chicken fried chicken.

Clementine’s says they “serve American cuisine with a flair towards Continental style.” The menu boasts an impressive array of choices, including Italian and Mediterranean dishes, as well as the promised American cuisine, most of it with a southern flair. Burgers, seafood, pasta, chicken, beef and veal are all available. On weekends, breakfast is served from 8:00 AM-2:00 PM, featuring omelets, waffles, pancakes, Eggs Benedict and Florentine, and more. I appreciate that breakfast is served until 2:00 PM because that means there’s a reasonable chance I will get to try it someday. I am not typically an early—or even kind of early—riser if it’s up to me.

I went in around 5:00 PM on a Saturday. The restaurant was almost empty apart from a few people watching football at the bar. I soon realized this was because one of the most popular features at Clementine’s occurs from 6:00 PM-9:00 PM on Saturday night: the all-you-can-eat prime rib buffet, which costs $22.95. The buffet is not limited to prime rib, however. The exact menu many vary from week to week, but on the Saturday I visited, the buffet menu listed the following:

Clementine's gumbo
Take a look at that tasty gumbo.
  • Prime Rib Carving Station
  • Chicken Monterrey
  • Tilapia
  • Salmon
  • Drunken Pork
  • Catfish
  • Hushpuppies
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Green Beans
  • New Red Mashed Potatoes
  • Boiled Shrimp

Also included were several types of salad, soup (French Onion, Potato Bacon, Seafood Gumbo, and Vegetable Beef) and a drool-worthy dessert bar.

Because we were early, we decided to go ahead and order from the regular menu. I ordered the Blackened Salmon, which is topped with crawfish tails in a cream sauce, with grilled potatoes, sautéed spinach, and Potato Bacon soup. My dining companion went for the Chicken Fried Chicken (and agreed to give me a bite because as we’ve established, it’s one of my favorite things but I can’t/shouldn’t just eat that every time) with grilled potatoes, vegetables, and Seafood Gumbo.

Clementine's potato soup
Remember a few years ago when everyone pretended that bacon’s deliciousness was new information? That was weird.

The soups arrived first. The potato soup was very good. The texture and flavor were just right, and the bacon on top was plentiful and perfectly crisp. The gumbo was loaded with shrimp and had lots of flavor while avoiding that overly floured taste gumbo sometimes gets from the roux. I can be finicky about gumbo, but I definitely will order it there next time.

When the entrees arrived, I collected my bite of chicken fried chicken. It was served with an amusingly large bowl of white gravy on the side. The coating is the softer kind—flavorful, maybe a little crisp, but not crunchy. (There’s a reason why Barbecue Inn’s chicken fried chicken stands out as special, even among lots of delicious samples.) It definitely was tasty, and I would be more than happy to eat a whole plate of it, but I was glad I had decided to branch out and try something different.

Clementine's blackened salmon
I’ve been thinking a lot about this salmon since I had it, you guys. I need more of it in my life.

My salmon was cooked perfectly. It’s extremely easy to overcook salmon, and I’ve found that some restaurants serve their salmon topped with sauce and other bells and whistles to try to hide the fact that it’s overdone. But not here! The crawfish and sauce were very good, but they didn’t overpower the salmon and didn’t need to hide anything. The flavor and texture of the fish were delightful. My side items were good too, and dipping the potatoes and spinach into the abundance of sauce didn’t exactly make me sad.

The portions at Clementine’s are generous, but not ridiculous. We were stuffed enough after our entrees that we decided to forego dessert this time. However, I did take a peek into the buffet area as it was just about time for it to start, saw the dessert bar, and vowed to come back on another Saturday night very soon. Given how good our entrees were, I feel confident that the buffet is going to inspire some deadly sin levels of gluttony. And then probably some sloth.

Clementine's dessert buffet
Yes, please.

While the outside of Clementine’s isn’t especially notable, the décor inside is cute. It’s designed to look like you’re eating in a street café in an old city like New Orleans. To reinforce that feeling, they have live music every night from Tuesday through Saturday. The overall feeling is homey and old-fashioned in a pleasant way. I had the immediate impulse to take my parents or in-laws there. They have a banquet hall that can hold up to 77 people, and it seems like a great place to have a big family dinner.

It’s not at all surprising that Clementine’s is still going strong after all these years, even given how much its location has changed around it. I’m just surprised I never heard of it until now. With great food (and a great variety of it), great service, and a fun atmosphere, it’s a real asset to our northwestern suburbs.

 

Clementine's building
There’s even a little patio!

Clementine’s Restaurant and Banquet Facility
6448 Cypress Creek Parkway
Houston, Texas 77069
281-440-5310

Hours:
Monday-Thursday 11:00 AM-9:00 PM
Friday 11:00 AM-10:00 PM
Saturday 8:00 AM-10:00 PM
Sunday 8:00 AM-4:00 PM

www.clementinesrestaurant.com

Annie Bulloch

Annie Bulloch is a freelance writer who has lived in Houston most of her life. Her main obsessions are food--both cooking and eating--and pop culture, especially comics, movies and TV.

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