On Friday, March 5, 2010
a new restaurant, O.O.W.I.A.H.
will be located in 3rd Streaming
at Bond Street.
There is one seating at
8:30 pm for eight people.
The menu is prix fixe and will be comprised
of five courses.
The charges are thirty five dollars U.S.
There is special wine list that will accompany
the menu. All beverages are in addition
to the prix fixe menu.
is located in 3rd Streaming at
No. 2 Bond Street
New York City
Reservations are necessary.
646 454 9185
O.O.W.I.A.H. is a division of
itinerant gastronomy, copyright 1997
Vegetarians are accepted
if notification is made ahead of time.
We look forward to seeing you.
Cross America these days and any new business from Manhattan to a small town in Texas with 2,499 inhabitants that is neither a Walmart nor a wind farm would seem a risky proposition, or simply an oddity. If the enterprise is an auto parts store or a dance hall — a place that is considered, expansive and generous—larger than ourselves, greater that the sum of its parts, it is an exception.
A place where there is a sense that someone is making it all happen, but knows better than to let you know how they are doing it, because of the simple fact that they are just doing it, and doing it well. A place where that individual brings together a group of like-minded, talented people and they all just get down to business, making a living at what they know and do best. A place where all of the elements are visible, but not self-consciously so. Not to get too saccharine, but the word that comes to mind is grace, and Sengelmann Hall — the dance hall, restaurant, biergarten, bakery and former auto parts store that is being restored to its original and intended use, is the dream and brain child of Dana Harper. Sengelmann Hall in Schulenburg, Texas is such a place.
The first time I heard about Sengelmann Hall was at a Sunday lunch comprised of meat pies and lamb shanks at Houston's carnivorously inclined FEAST. (A mere shadow of Russell Ferguson's London establishment—St. John's.) The bearded blonde haired man seated at the table was Harper and he had just returned from Schulenburg and was talking about the undertaking of the renovation of a 19th century dance hall that will open this summer. He mentioned how he had just hired Chef Kenny Kopecky, a native of this Czech/German enclave, one of the 2,499 locals and an expert in Pul a Pul cooking (half Czech/half German). The local community with its rich agrarian origins—ranches, dairy farms, farmers and the Gulf coast fishermen that are a rocket launcher away will supply seasonal ingredients for the restaurant and bakery. Pul a Pul is the culinary and cultural influence for the restaurant's menu, but it does not limit itself to this. The menu is a well-chosen selection that reflects the local traditions but is simultaneously of this moment—new American and Texan, without diluting its gastronomic heritage.
Rabbit Two Ways
At Sengelmann Hall's recent menu tasting, the Rabbit Two Ways (Braised and Seared) was served with the parsnip and turnip mash. It accomplishes that impossible feat of being deliciously tender while having the exact crispness of skin, perfectly portioned and served atop the classic root vegetable combination. The Texas Caviar—quartered duck eggs on top of black eyed peas dressed with olive oil and roasted red peppers, red onions, a touch of garlic, parsley and celery could in fact be the new 'black gold' as the sight of working oil pumps across the Texas landscape had become a novelty. The al dente peas and their plated companions, all distinguish themselves. Once again this mirrors Sengelmann's philosophy and attention to detail, from what goes on between the walls to what gets served on the plate, it is all uniquely itself.
Texas Caviar topped with Duck Eggs
The Meat Loaf Slider wrapped in bacon and served on a poppy-seeded potato roll will inspire the New York Chef David Chang of the acclaimed Momofuku franchise to make the 1,736 mile road trip to Schulenburg, Texas. Kopecky will give Chang's steamed buns a run, or at the very least, it will make his clientele embark on a pilgrimage for their Sengelmann Hall experience—one that is uniquely Schulenburgian.
Meat Loaf Slider with Bacon on a Poppy Seeded Potato Roll
The menu will include sausages (made in-house), ghoulash, Texas Rib Eye— the 'Bad Boy', poultry, Gulf coast shrimp, catfish, pork, sandwiches, dumplings, noodles, potato pancakes and other new, but old world delicacies all enhanced by locally grown, seasonal vegetables and salads. Harper's Czech and equally talented better half, the sculptor Hana Hillerova contributed her ancestral recipes as well as her own knowledge of authentic Czech and Pul a Pul cuisine.
Steve Dean, Dana Harper and Hana Hillerova
Hailing most recently from Austin, the classically trained French Pastry Chef Molly Burnette will be running the Czech Bakery. In addition to baking pretzels, breads, rolls and desserts for the restaurant, Pastry Chef Burnette's repertoire will be available each morning starting in August at the storefront bakery, daily invoking Carême (1783–1833), the influential French pastry chef who's culinary strategy crossed sovereign borders as well as mixing their respective techniques.
Chocolate Cream Pie and Banana Pudding
Burnette's desserts include classic variations of the Black Forest Cake, Apple Streudel, Chocolate Cream Pie, cobblers, kolaches, but it is the Banana Pudding that will send one back up on the dance floor, with its base of homemade Nilla wafers and generous layering of local creams. A sampler would be a great amendment to the menu and just in case you have room for another round, there is the homemade Shiner Bock ice cream.
Pretzel and Sengelmann Hall Mustard
As day turns to night, the saloon on the ground floor will offer specialty cocktails, including the Sengelmann. This signature apértif echoes the origins of the mixed drink and where it all began, literally as a punch. This newly minted appetite enhancer is comprised of bourbon, bitters, orange juice, aromatics, teas and all-spice. A specialized list of pre-Prohibition cocktails, wines and a full service bar will also available. One cannot think of certain foods unless it is in combination with a certain drink; given the Czech and German heritage, besides sausages, what this immediately brings to thirst is the necessity of the other complete food group—beer. Piped through the walls of Sengelmann Hall and into the saloon, restaurant, dance hall and biergarten are 14 beers on tap from the Czech Republic, Germany and Texas. There are some notable microbrews on the list including Real Ale Fireman's 4 from Blanco, Texas (A thinking person's brewery that actually quotes Frank Zappa on the homepage of their website and in some circles that is enough evidence to indicate that they know what they are doing.) and Houston's very own un-zoned Saint Arnold's Fancy Lawnmower. (We hear that leafblower is in the works, so be on the lookout for a very loud stout with an overflowing head.)
Seven of the Fourteen Beers on Tap
You are not hearing things and if it is a Thursday night it is probably your own feet moving in a percussive two-step rhythm to Johnny Cash's piano player of over 20 years, Earl Poole Ball. This brings us back to where it all started— the dance hall. Steve Dean, a veteran of the Texas music scene for over 30 years is a director and founding member of the Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc. and is Sengelmann Hall's music director. Dean brings his extensive knowledge and passion for dance halls and live music and will be bringing remarkable talent to Schulenburg as he books such legends as Billy Mata, Asleep at the Wheel, James 'Slim' Hand and the next generation including Amber Digby, Honey browne and Bobby Flores. He is completing a book on Texas Dance Halls for the University of Texas Press and is yet another testament to Sengelmann Hall’s team and their personal commitment and engagement with what they do.
A Table in the Dance Hall
Harper's relatives were natives of Schulenburg and the ancestral home is on the Texas Registry of Historic Places, and like Sengelmann Hall it is equidistant from Houston, San Antonio and Austin—a place in between, and the reason why it will become a second home for many. Most likely, if Harper has anything to do with it, the train will once again stop in Schulenburg.