When thinking about the future of bars and restaurants in north Houston, Leader Eater keeps seeing the past. The word future (in keeping with this issue’s theme) has for me always triggered images of flying cars, mechanical means of taking care of mundane activities with just a push of a button.
Just imagine a robotic waiter bringing out your efficiently prepared entrée to the table with timely precision – no time-wasting, tableside banter, no annoyingly long wait for your dinner and that main course always cooked to your exact liking.
But a futuristic, Jetsons-like approach to enjoying a meal or a drink out is the exact opposite of what we are seeing and are likely to keep experiencing at our local restaurants and bars. In fact, there has been an almost fanatical insistence by new spots in town to embrace what used to be in restaurateuring – upholding a neighborhood’s architectural heritage, keeping with a region’s culinary roots in its ingredients, crafting a native tap list and shaping its aesthetics in the building’s history. If you want to see the future, take a trip to D&T Drive Inn just off Cavalcade, east of Main Street.
When this neighborhood watering hole re-opened a few months back, D&T didn’t stray far from the decades-old heritage in the little joint nestled between two houses on Enid, rather putting a stripped-down and clean finish on the old bones. But the future of this neighborhood’s eat and drink lies beyond the building and comes out in D&T’s menu and the communal confines.
This place is a bar, so the menu leans towards the snacking appetite. Yet, it carries thoughtful wrinkles that put tasteful twists on a Pimento Cheese Sandwich, a Po-Boy and Beans and Rice (in a salad?). Leader Eater’s main purpose of this weekend afternoon was testing out the notable tap list while meeting a compadre, so my food selection was scaled back. That fit finely with the bottom end of D&T’s page of non-beer options that features meat and cheese platters.
Icehouses of the future will unabashedly offer dried and finely sliced sweet sausage like Borsellino and proudly pair it with a soft Vermont raclette cheese sporting a dull creamy finish that goes down best with a slice of sour green apple. D&T has brought the organic comfort food craze that heralds the yesteryear to the beer drinker.
And this is a place for a beer drinker. There were plenty of them sitting on D&T’s back patio this afternoon. The neighborhood public house of the future will have long bench tables where pickled-egg eating and pint-drinking strangers will learn each other’s names and a multi-generational crowd will play dominoes while belly laughing in the Sunday sun. It will have old timers tossing washers on the side of the place and dads draining a couple of cold ones with their kids (yep, The Bomber, my five-year-old going on 15 loves a good local icehouse).
At first take, D&T might look like an ode to the past, but in fact, it really is what eating and drinking in our neighborhood will continue to look like in the future.
D&T Drive Inn Beer Wine & Set Ups
1307 Enid St.
Meats, Cheeses and Everything Else: $4-$11
Meat & Cheese Platters: $5-$28
Kid Friendly: Hangin’ out in the afternoon hours is ideal
LE’s Favorite: Borsellino Sausage and Reading Rachlette Plates