I sat next to the owner of Plonk on a flight out to California. We had an interesting chat, he gave me his card but since his restaurant was outside the loop I didn’t give it much more thought; call me an inner loop snob. A few weeks later friends living close to Plonk also recommended it which I categorized as nationalism at a neighbourhood level but it was enough for me to schedule a group outing.
I’m glad about that.
Plonk is located in the Oak Forest area of Houston; a lovely, sedate neighbourhood with huge trees and well-kept, mid-century ranch homes. Finding Plonk is a bit of an adventure; you know its at 43rd & Ella but it could be any of one of the strip centers and since there is no sign, you just start at one and work your way through. For those who want clearer directions – NW corner, behind the Wells Fargo.
The interior is amorphous; clean and shiny but lacking any atmosphere. The patio is likewise generic; a functional, blank canvas on which you will paint your own atmosphere.
There are pages of wine and beer selections covering just about all varieties of both; its an impressive list for the venue size; half of the selections were familiar, the other half, not so much. I asked wine girl for a lighter white with some personality. She brought out this Austrian white : Bründelmayer Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen 2012. Slightly effervescent with a clear green apple focus, a whisper of white pepper and lemon with a chalky goodbye. A enjoyable sip solo, however aggressive enough to pair well with an order of roasted sprouts. I’ll likely pick up a bottle for further investigation.
The food options are broken down into small plates and large. Since we were mostly drinking we ordered a few small to share. Of note were the roasted brussell sprouts, which were simply prepared – salt, pepper and lemon. The simplicity worked well with the flavours in the Austrian white, lemon combining with green apple, black and white pepper merging in spicy harmony.
Service follows a different, more spontaneous philosophy which they more than adequately cover when you walk in – its table service but not exclusively. They will try to get to you but if its taking too long just go to the bar and get your own. This may not sit well with people used to being waited on but for me the focus was on my friends, so I could not have cared less. In our 3 hours at Plonk all of the bartenders come to our table at least once and our glasses were rarely empty for more than 5 minutes. The bartenders/servers are knowledgeable, friendly and decent at sensing the mood and pace of a table.
The wine/beer prices are reasonable and comparable to other wine bars in the city; you can expect a glass of wine to be between $8-30, depending on variety and year. The food prices however, I found to be somewhat expensive; $8 for one roasted scallop? It was definitely good but not $8 good. Stick with the sprouts at $6
Drinks: May 2014
Plonk | 1214 W 43rd St. @ Ella | HTX 77018