Local Fare at Reef

Meet Chef Bryan Caswell and his take on Houston's daily catch.
Carolanne Griffith Roberts

What lands on your plate at Reef depends a lot on the water temperature, the moon, how much sunlight the fish received during the day–and the catch local fishermen make available to Bryan Caswell's kitchen. It might be croaker or lesser-known sheepshead, tripletail, or triggerfish. "There are 15 to 20 species nobody ever uses," says the Houston-raised chef, a fisherman himself. "Our preparations don't change as much as the selection does." Bryan's devotion to local seafood, plus his Texas-Louisiana upbringing, figures largely on the menu: grandmother Bertie B. Caswell's yeast rolls with jalapeño jelly, suggestions of grandmother "Ma" Daigle's gumbo, grouper with collards and potlikker, corn pudding with grilled peach and salsa, mussels steamed in Shiner Bock beer. It's local, heartfelt, and turning heads in Houston.

Reef's Most Popular Dish
The countdown for the coming of soft-shell crabs begins any day now. Bryan's favorite treatment: taqueria style with a pickled vinaigrette and his own version of honey mustard drizzled on top.

2600 Travis at McGowen; www.reefhouston.com or (713) 526-8282. 
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 5-11 p.m. Saturday.