Don’t blink or you might miss their building along Long Point Road. But once you experience the Spring Branch District’s new high-end, world-class tasting and cocktail ventures, you won’t forget where they are.
Brandon Silva and Steven Salazar of Wooster’s Garden, Heights Bier Garten, Pitch 25, and Holman Draft Hall chose two acres at 7202 Long Point Road for the launching pad for their flagship tasting-menu restaurant, Degust, and cocktail bar, Diversión.
Both open Thursday, Jan. 14.
Degust serves an 8-course tasting menu inspired by chef Brandon Silvas’ Spanish and Mexican heritage and his home of Texas. Diversión is an intimate seating-room-only cocktail bar, with bar chefs creating cocktails unlike anyone in Houston has ever experienced, said Salazar. “Inspirations come from my Spanish heritage (too), Texas, and my world travels,” he said.
By reservation only, Degust offers three seatings per night with only 20 seats available per seating. Diversión will be first-come, first-served with about 30 seats, serving cocktails, Spanish wine, beer, saké, and light bites.
Houstonia magazine this week said Degust “looks to be the next great Houston dining experience.”
Silva’s tasting menu is $75 per person with a beverage pairing of $45. A la carte beverage options are also available.
Choose between the “Purple Pill” (for carnivores) or “Green Pill” (vegetarian) tasting menus featuring a wide range of mouth-watering flavors, from Gulf fish with shishito pepper and satsuma to cauliflower with caviar and garlic.
In the Purple Pill menu, you will want to “degust,” or taste carefully, so as to appreciate it fully, the venison with recado negro and salsa Jalisco. On the Green Pill tasting menu, carrot is the tasty ingredient used in place of the venison.
Both menus feature a show-stopping salsa flight. The Purple Pill menu flight stars duck, short rib and pork loin, while the Green Pill features “butternut, peas and ferments.”
More than a restaurant, Degust is meant to be an experience, something truly unique for the Spring Branch District and the Houston area. Perhaps only South Korea-inspired steakhouse Bori, another relative newcomer on the Spring Branch dining scene, is the nearest comparison in terms of upscale dining around Spring Branch.
In the same building, but separate from Silva’s dining destination, is a unique libation laboratory, Diversión
What makes Diversión different from your average cocktail bar is that executive bar chef Salazar executes the service with the same worldly sophistication as Degust.
“Our bar chefs source the finest produce — (we) clean, cut and transform them to make our ingredients from scratch. We grow our own produce on our urban farms in the Heights and Spring Branch, totaling 10,000 square feet,” he said. “Additionally, we visit the farmers market each weekend and build relationships with farmers all over the state.”
Diversión uses the fresh produce to craft cordials, infusions, tinctures, preserves, ferments and vinegars, Salazar said, all made from scratch. The walls of the cocktail bar will feature various “projects” Salazar and his staff will conduct through the year as the seasons change.
Immersive cocktails receive top billing at Diversión and, when they say, “immersive,” they mean it.
Take in the description of Tiki-inspired “Day at the Beach:” “The mug is an edible dark chocolate shell, the bubbles are Texas Meyer lemon ocean foam, the ‘sand’ is edible, and the aroma reminds you of a day at the beach. Complete nostalgia without the lobster red sun burn.”
Are we still in Spring Branch?
Describing “Morning Cereal,” Salazar reminisces: “The first breakfast I ever ‘cooked’ for myself was in pre-school. I climbed on the counter to get the box of cereal off the top of the fridge, then poured and splashed a heavy gallon of milk into the bowl and onto the table. My favorites were frosted flakes and Fruit Loops. Here we offer a 21-and-up version of your classic bowl of breakfast cereal.”
Back to present-day reality, the partners opened with COVID-19 safety in mind.
Expect temperature checks at the door and to be wearing your face mask at all times unless seated at a table. Ultraviolet filtration systems have been installed in the air ducts, and electrostatic HEPA filtration units are in place throughout the dining room.
In addition, social distancing will be observed among parties with plexiglass barriers. That means mingling with those not in your party is out. But, at Degust and Diversión, the focus is on the flavors anyway.
Seatings are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 5:30 p.m., 8:15 p.m., 11:00 p.m.
Make a reservation
7202 Long Point Rd.
Houston, TX 77055
@DiversionCocktails on social media
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Six or fewer people per party
— By Dorothy Puch Lillig
— Photos by Kat Ambrose and Dorothy Puch Lillig