Spring Branch Restaurant From Celebrity Chef & Author Christine Ha is Now Open
The new brick-and-mortar location of The Blind Goat from MasterChef season three winner and New York Times best-selling cookbook author Christine Hà and her husband, John Suh, is now in its soft opening phase at 8145 Long Point in Spring Branch Village. (Hà is also co-owner of Xin Chào, along with chef Tony Nguyen of Saigon House, and they are among the Houston restaurants and chefs who were recently named 2023 James Beard Semifinalists.) The Blind Goat is just a few doors down from Feges BBQ and Cosmic Ice Cream Co. – Spring Branch.
The restaurant name is an amalgam of chef Hà’s nickname “The Blind Cook” (she lost her vision due to neuromyelitis optica almost 20 years ago) and her birth being in the Year of the Goat, according to the Vietnamese zodiac. The original location of The Blind Goat, a 2020 James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in America, was located in Bravery Chef Hall and had its final service in November of last year. For this new iteration, billed as a “modern Vietnamese eatery”, Hà offers fresh takes on the classic Vietnamese dishes she grew up with and adds a playful bit of Tex-Mex flare with items like Quexô & Wonton Chips.
The menu is filled with shareable crowd-pleasers, including the photogenic Bánh Mì Board, oysters with Thai chile mignonette and phở-spiced, roasted bone marrow. (Having a shot of something nice at-the-ready makes for a fun mini-booze luge when you’re finished scraping out the rich marrow.) This was one of our favorite items of the night, but it does take a little longer to prepare than the other plates. The backbar is still being filled out, but already has a decent selection of spirits, wine and beer. The cocktail menu is full of creative, refreshing options designed to pair well with the food.
Chef Hà’s Mom’s Eggrolls, are craveable, crispy appetizers with a fine mince of pork, shrimp, carrot and wood ear mushroom tightly bound, fried and served with a fish sauce vinaigrette for dipping. I admit that I threw table manners out the window and grabbed the last one with nary a concern as to whether or not the rest of my party had their fill.
As far as the larger dishes go, I recommend sharing The Great Green Papaya Salad with sweet beef jerky, grape tomato, roasted peanuts, sesame, honey and a shrimp paste vinaigrette. It has much of the vibrant flavors you come to expect with gỏi đu đủ khô bò but Hà’s unique take is not spicy at all. The Crawfish & Garlic Noodles are a Gulf Coast take on a West Coast specialty that’s normally made with crab meat. It manages to stay light despite the noodles being generously coated with butter and dusted with salty Parmesan cheese. Fresh lemon zest is blended in to lift and brighten the dish. It’s simple, lovely and won’t weigh you down.
The most popular of the big plates is the Whole Roasted Turmeric Fish with dill, galangal, grilled pineapple, roasted peanuts, fresh herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette and rice vermicelli bundles. We could only watch with envy as servers passed us by with it, our stomachs too full to continue. It’s nice to have something to look forward to on a future visit. While the whole fish will set you back $45, most of the items on the menu are under $20, which is more than fair considering the high quality and sizable portions. For dessert, diners can treat themselves to the Gordan Ramsay-approved Rubbish Apple Pie à la Mode, which has been updated with a Viet-twist of star anise, ginger and lemongrass, and is topped with vanilla bean ice cream (sourced from neighboring Cosmic Ice Cream Co.) and fish sauce caramel. This new iteration of The Blind Goat was by far our favorite of her three restaurant concepts thus far.
Expect another new project from Hà and Suh in the near future. They are currently working on a drive-thru sandwich concept in the same shopping center called Stuffed Belly, which they hope to open in the next few months.
Because The Blind Goat is still in the soft-opening phase, diners should have reasonable expectations. Some items may be out-of-stock or take a tad longer than usual during their first few weeks of service, for example.
The Blind Goat is currently open for dinner Thursday through Sunday. Reservations are recommended. Looking for work? The restaurant is now hiring line cooks and hosts.
Mario-Sebastian Berry is a wine and spirits vendor who has been in the hospitality industry since 2002. Currently, he represents Blanco, Texas-based Andalusia Whiskey Co. and multiple wine labels. Somehow, he also finds time to be Houston Food Finder’s associate editor and social media manager.