I live in Houston and love writing reviews of the local restaurants and stores I visit with family and friends.
Clementines, a charming restaurant located in northwest Houston, has been around since 1979.
Hundreds of new restaurants open annually in the Houston metropolitan area. Some make it, and some do not. So for those that have survived many decades, something is being done right to have so much staying power!
A person would have to dine out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the year for slightly over 10 years to dine at the roughly 11,000 restaurants in the Houston area.
I discovered Clementines Restaurant many years ago, and I've always enjoyed the ambience and the food. It is not exactly in our neighborhood, and probably for that reason, I had temporarily forgotten about it. Driving past it one day refreshed my memory.
The exterior of this family-owned and operated restaurant is not particularly eye-catching. Its location is at the end of an older strip shopping center at the corner of Champions Drive and Cypress Creek Parkway (formerly known by locals as FM 1960). The address is 6448 Cypress Creek Pkwy., Houston, Texas 77069.
There is a small outdoor dining area that overlooks the parking lot in front of the building. Large potted plants soften the look and add some greenery to the otherwise simple appearance. It is upon entering the restaurant that one gets to see its old-world charm.
The entrance room is set up as a bar where diners can enjoy food and drink. It is bright and inviting with a painted red ceiling, yellow ochre painted walls, and a full planked brown-toned wooden floor. A large screen TV is on view above the bar.
With an “It’s all good” sign at the top of a wooden facade, restaurant patrons enter into what is reminiscent of street scenery in many a European village.
The patterned floor could make one think of cobblestoned streets. Rooflines with shuddered windows and window boxes filled with artificial blooming flowers and greenery add to the ambience. Much of this dining space, while bright enough to easily read menus, is slightly darkened to give the effect of a street scene at night. The actual ceiling above is black, simulating a night sky.
Recently my husband and I had lunch there and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our server let us choose where we wished to be seated. After looking it over, we decided upon a room at the back, which is built up by two steps giving us an excellent overview of the restaurant looking from the backend to the front. Seating choices include booths and also tables and chairs. We usually prefer the latter.
While looking over the rather extensive menu, we decided to try an appetizer of their calamari fritti served with spicy marinara sauce. For many years, my husband and I have rated restaurants by how well their chefs prepare and serve fried calamari (squid). It must be fresh, and it cannot be overcooked, or the consistency becomes rubbery. A good sauce is a plus, but if the fried calamari is light and delectable, a squeeze of fresh lemon is all it truly needs.
The marinara sauce was served separately in a bowl on the side. We did request some fresh lemon, as well. A large plate of light and crispy calamari arrived, and soon my husband and I agreed that this was as good as any we've ever eaten.
As his main entrée, my husband chose veal Milanese. Along with the panko-crusted veal fillets grilled with artichoke butter, he got to select an accompaniment of either roasted potatoes, steak fries, grilled vegetables, or garlic mashed potatoes. He chose the garlic mashed potatoes as a side dish. The panko-crusted veal fillet was crispy and well seasoned. Instead of ruining the effect of its crunchy exterior, the artichoke butter sauce was served in a dish on the side to be added by diners at their discretion.
A basket of garlic bread accompanied our meal. It was as good as it appeared!
My choice of an entrée that day was the artichoke snapper. It was a grilled snapper fillet topped with artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and shrimp with lemon butter. As a side, I chose the grilled mixed vegetables.
Our friendly server told us that everything in the kitchen is fresh and preferably locally sourced. They do not freeze anything! That indeed accounts for the flavors and textures that we both experienced.
The lunch menu is extensive, and menu choices come from these general categories:
- Seafood and Pasta
- Steak and Veal
A banquet room in the back is bright and cheerful. According to Clementines' brochure, it can accommodate up to 77 people. On the day of our visit, some ladies playing bridge were sitting at a couple of the tables. Just the day prior, the entire restaurant was filled to the brim for a special event.
A Favorite Neighborhood Spot
In the evenings from Wednesday through Saturday, there is live entertainment at the restaurant. On Saturday nights, they offer a prime rib buffet. They are open seven days a week and provide breakfast delights on Saturdays and Sundays. If you live nearby, you can refer to their website below for more details.
We give this restaurant a definite thumbs up. We have subsequently returned to enjoy more of that delicious calamari as well as other items on the menu.
Analyzing Clementines and comparing it to clothing, this restaurant has the feel of a favorite pair of comfortable slippers or a cherished and best-loved sweater. My husband and I can see why this is a neighborhood favorite and why patrons keep returning to it decade after decade.
© 2020 Peggy Woods