RRobert Del Grande left chunky steel-toed shoes to fill at the Annie Cafe & Bar and its sister restaurant Turner’s. After stepping back from the lineup at the start of the summer, Del Grande has settled into the role of chef emeritus. Now, Berg Hospitality, the restaurant group founded by Benjamin Berg that runs the two Houston restaurants, is revealing The Annie’s new executive chef. Meet Brian Sutton.
A 26-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Sutton grew up in Colchester, England, where he enrolled in the Colchester Institute of Culinary Arts. After graduating, he ventured to the United States, where he was recruited to work at the luxury Keswick Hall resort in Charlottesville, Virginia. Later, his career took him to kitchens in France and Switzerland before returning to the United States to join the Garrett Hotel Group. There, this talented chef worked with the company that managed several Relais & Château properties, including The Inn at Five Graces in New Mexico, The Wilcox in South Carolina and The Point Resort in New Yorkwhere he rose through the ranks to take the title of Executive Chef.
It was there, at the Point Resort, that Sutton also met Berg, who would become a lifelong friend.
“I am confident that Brian is the ideal candidate based on his extensive culinary expertise and leadership skills, which I witnessed firsthand when we worked together,” Berg said in a statement. “I am extremely pleased with The Annie’s updated menu, and I know our customers will appreciate the new additions and updates to current dishes.”
Sutton’s menus at The Annie include several new dishes of his own and some much-loved favorites that have been refreshed with new ingredients and tweaked presentations. Sutton’s culinary contributions — which we haven’t tried yet — include wood-grilled octopus with fried potato cake and Calabrian chili aioli ($28), slow cooker duck leg confit (available special on Wednesday night), and crab brunch with Benoît cake ($46). At lunch, you might be tempted by its luxurious lobster salad topped with a buttermilk vinaigrette ($48) and its orecchiette with lamb and eggplant ragout ($28).
Annie’s followers have nothing to fear. The majority of lunch, dinner and brunch menu items will remain familiar to most diners. Famous dishes that stay put include Annie’s Tortilla Soup ($14), those famous Crab Tostadas ($38), Coffee Roasted Filet Mignon ($56) – an often copied dish that happened by accident – and the burger that Bar Annie now dubs The Annie Grind ($28).
L’Annie has an ambitious new chef. But his favorite restaurants remain.