First Bite: Blue Onyx Bistro Now Open In The Greenway Plaza Area
With Pan-Asian flair and a cocktail menu brimming with tiki drinks, Blue Onyx Bistro is now open at 4720 Richmond in the Greenway Plaza area. It should prove terrific for diners seeking food that’s more elegant than the many fast food and fast-casual restaurants in the area. Blue Onyx takes its name from a gemstone that’s believed to give strength and happiness while balancing the mind and body.
It also inspired the design, which is heavy on blue and white tones, sleek lines, craggy rock elements and bright light. The aesthetic is probably best showcased in Blue Onyx’s massive bar, a towering affair with red accent light, boutique spirits and a serviceable wine list.
Chef David Chang (no, not that David Chang) originally from Taiwan and formerly of Redfish Seafood Grill, has crafted a menu heavy on seafood interspersed with big salads and quality steaks. He emphasizes big, bold flavors melded with exquisite presentation, evident in dishes such as the Ocean Smoke House. It’s a baked red snapper that arrives under glass, ensuring that the aromatics from cedar smoke seep into the fish until servers lift the dome. Creamy beurre blanc accents the woody flavors and the julienne carrots, squash and zucchini provide crisp snap.
The Volcanic Bronzini is an east-meets-west dish. The firm Mediterranean sea bass has a crunchy skin stuffed with briny, flaky crab meat and is served over sauteed spinach. It’s topped with a snappy wasabi-lime-cream sauce, giving the whole affair a zesty punch.
The Blue Onyx Special Salad can be topped with salmon or steak and the steak option arrives with a juicy cut of beef. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the mixed greens, tangy feta cheese and plump tomatoes. Chang’s ginger-lemongrass dressing brings the whole thing together, with the lemon’s bright acidity serving as a great foil for the ginger’s sass.
The sushi rolls are huge affairs, stuffed full of tuna, eel or snow crab and ideal for sharing. The crunchy rolls gets some heat from a pop of jalapeño, while the bang of chili paste with the spicy tuna roll is moderated slightly by creamy avocado and a cool cucumber crunch.
One of the restaurant’s most impressive elements, however, is the cocktail list curated by Mark “Howie” Voros, known best for Howie’s Tiki in Spring. The list is packed with classics. The Mai Tai is Howie’s riff on the 1944 Trader Vic’s iteration, blending Clement rhum agricole and Hamilton Pot Still gold rums with housemade Creole shrub, orgeat and lime. (It’s the perfect partner to the beef slider on the happy hour menu, a mouth-watering cut of prime rib on a fluffy, sweet bun and topped with a punchy thousand island-style dressing).
Meanwhile, the Shark Bite—made with 12-year-old Appleton and Mount Gay Eclipse rums and laced with pineapple, lime and cinnamon—is a beautifully balanced, savory drink.
For all its sleekness and excellent service, though, Blue Onyx is approachable and easy. Its price points are attractive, the happy hour provides excellent deals on drinks and food (in addition to the slider, the sticky ribs are a standout at $3.95) and the menu has many different kinds of dishes.
Blue Onyx serves lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner is served from 2 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Happy Hour is from 2:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and the bar’s operating hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Editor’s note: expenses for dishes and drinks described in this article were entirely paid for by the writer.
About the author: Holly Beretto writes about food, wine, the arts and interesting people for a variety of local publications, including Downtown magazine and Houstonia. Her work has appeared in Arts + Culture Texas, Santa Clara magazine, Maui No Ka Oi, PRIME Living and the Arizona State University and St. Paul’s School alumni magazines. She is the editor of Pierce, the magazine of Franklin Pierce University and the author of Christ as the Cornerstone: Fifty Years of Worship at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, published by Bright Sky Press. Originally from Rhode Island, she lives in Houston with her husband Mark Love.