I have often said that some of the best food is found in small country towns housed in unassuming buildings that don’t draw much attention to themselves. In Simonton, Texas where cattle may very well outnumber people, there is a hidden gem of a restaurant that holds a wonderful surprise. From first glance, you may think, like I did, that you’re going to a Bar-B-Que joint. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Anthonie’s Market Grill is what I consider one of the best-kept secrets in the West Houston metro area. Located about 30 minutes (depending on Houston traffic) west of downtown Houston off Interstate 10, Anthonie’s sits quietly on the side of FM 1492.
Anthonie’s is the brainchild of Chef Anthonie Dekker, who hails from Holland and arrived in the states at age 25. After cooking in Houston, Kemah, and Minneapolis, he returned to Houston, where he was the executive chef for the Houston Texans football team. He then went on to serve as a private chef for one of the largest cattle ranches in south Texas. According to the restaurant’s website www.Anthonies.com, his food has even been enjoyed by some great palettes ranging from George H.W. Bush to George Strait.
The atmosphere at Anthonie’s is surprisingly casual compared to the fantastic food. It’s not shorts and flip flops casual, but it’s not a stuffy, pretentious overdressed type of place either. It’s what I would call Sunday church casual if that is even a thing. Anywho, you don’t have to be in a shirt and tie or dressed like it’s the Ritz. Still, I wouldn’t recommend going in beach casual either although in the South Texas heat in summer, a cute sundress I’m sure would be an acceptable option, especially if you’re going to sit outside on the beautiful patio.
There are several options as to where you can sit and enjoy your time at Anthonie’s. From the outdoor patio complete with heaters for those rare cold south Texas evenings to the indoor dining room and bar, there’s something for everyone.
They also have a Texas-sized firepit area complete with a bean-bag toss game to enjoy while sipping a delicious cocktail and hanging out with friends, or making new friends.
We walked around for a bit, checking out the venue and trying to decide whether we wanted to sit inside or out. Eventually, we decided to sit inside, just to check out the vibe of the place. While we weren’t entirely happy with our seats (right outside the restroom and kitchen doors), we made the best of it. After all, it was Friday night and one thing about being a couple and dining, sometimes you have to take what you can get which is a 2 seater table. Since we are unpretentious folks, we always make the best of it and try to enjoy the ambiance versus harping on the negative.
One thing that Anthonie’s mentioned on their website is the fact that they have 109 wines by the bottle. At first, I wondered how they could store such an array of wines without a cellar, then I noticed it, every wine lover’s dream – a wall of wine. Sitting right next to a bar that faces the open kitchen is a wall with three sections of wine storage, which houses a fantastic display of various wines. If you love wine, they are sure to have one to fit your taste, and if you don’t want a bottle, they have an excellent selection of 17 wines by the glass.
After taking a few minutes to look over the wine and cocktail menu, we decided to try their versions of a Whisky Sour and Margarita (we are nothing if not predictable). Of course, we had to order an appetizer as well, and while they do have an excellent selection to choose from, one that caught our attention was the Dutch Bitterballen. I have no idea why I chuckle every time I say that word-Bitterballen!
From what our waiter told us, that is the most popular appetizer on the menu and the most asked about as well. I imagine that unless you are Dutch or have visited the country, most people have no clue what they are, like us.
These little deep-fried treats, similar to a kroket, are filled with something similar to a beef stew. It is quite challenging to explain the flavor other than to say they are amazing! They served them with dijon mustard, which is just the right amount of spiciness to go with the beef. I could sit and eat these for hours, along with a good beer. Yes, please!
Once we had time to savor our appetizer and decide on our entree, we sat back and took in the ambiance of the dining room. With an open kitchen, you can sit at a bar area and watch the entire cooking team pull together the amazing dishes. From the open flame grill where they cook various meat selections to perfection to the wedge salads, I doubt there is anything on the menu that is not tasty.
Chef Anthonie describes his tasty offering as “steaks, seafood, and southern coast comfort”. His oft-repeated phrase, “we are guest obsessed” only begins with service and attention to detail. Using the finest ingredients with imagination and intelligence, our mission is to present our customers with a dining experience thats every level of satisfying. courtesy – Anthonies.com
Once we finally decided on which tasty entree we were going to try, we sat and waited anxiously to see what delectable treats were headed our way. After the appetizer, we could only imagine how good the main would be. We were not disappointed!
Charlie ordered the Boneless Braised Drunken Short Rib Roast. Of course, I had to take a bite of his just to be sure I could give my honest opinion of the food for this post. The meat was super tender and flavorful. It melted in my mouth and was seasoned to perfection. Sitting on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes surrounded by a yummy au jus, it was Charlie’s type of food, meat, and potatoes.
Although I usually go for pasta (too many carbs for my current diet) or beef, I decided to go down a completely different culinary road. I ordered the Parmesan and Herb Crusted Australian Lamb Chops. I’ll be honest, I have never had Lamb chops, so I didn’t know what to expect. When the waiter set the plate down in front of me, I almost didn’t want to eat it. The presentation was so beautiful.
As with the beef dish, mine was served with mashed potatoes (something I’m eating less of) and flame-grilled asparagus. The meat was cooked to perfection, medium-rare. The flavor with the crust was amazing, not overpowering the meat but adding just the right complement. I must say, I am now a fan of lamb chops and will order more in the future given the chance.
While we don’t always order dessert when we go out to dinner, for some reason we felt like we just needed to have the full experience so off to the dessert menu we went. The variety of desserts at Anthonie’s range from Key Lime Pie to dessert cordials. Charlie decided that Key Lime Pie (usually his favorite) just isn’t right in the winter, so he chose the Banana Pudding.
Of course, anytime there is chocolate on a menu, I’m all in! I decided that I had to have the Dekkers Famous Chocolate Cake. With rum vanilla bean cream, macerated strawberries, and vanilla whipped cream, how could it possibly be bad? Well, maybe for my diet but I believe that everyone should have one cheat day a month and this was our date night so……Yes, please!
This chocolate cake was as close to chocolate heaven as I have been. It was deep, dark, and reminded me of a devil’s food cake with its lightness and airiness. Paired with a beautiful, nutty coffee, it was the perfect ending to a fantastic meal. Can I just say how cute is the little cream dispenser? It is a mini milk carton. I wanted to take it home with me.
While Anthonie’s is not an inexpensive place, it is well worth every penny spent. The food is terrific, and the service is impeccable. The ingredients used on each dish are top-notch, and many are imported, such as the Australian lamb. This attention to detail and sourcing the best ingredients is what makes Anthonie’s stand out and able to serve such tasty dishes.
As we sat and enjoyed our amazing meal, I noticed that the owner of the restaurant was present and mingling with the guests. The only reason I could pick him out was from the photo of him with former President Bush on the wall near the bar. It’s always such a treat to see the owners taking the time to visit with the patrons and ensuring they are enjoying their meals.
If you live in Houston, near Houston, or are visiting Houston, take the short drive to Simonton and dine at Anthonie’s. It is well worth the trip. Perhaps you will find, as we did, that you can have fantastic food in a beautiful atmosphere without having to go into downtown Houston or brave the crazy traffic. Don’t forget to order the Dutch Bitterballen. It’s a must-have!