After arriving in Houston late in the afternoon on Thursday, and enjoying some much needed sun by the pool, HBIC Cori Sue and I were really looking forward to our first full day in Houston on Friday. We had loads of activities scheduled, but first some important Bitch business to tend to early in the day. When we were finally ready to take on day one we were excited to start with, of course, brunch.
We were off to have brunch at Pondicheri on behalf of Visit Houston, which was generous but also a great talking point for us with locals. As far as brunch places go, Pondicheri was the one that most people knew well and came highly recommended by everyone. We were looking forward to checking it out.
Pondicheri is a cute, bright, inviting restaurant situated in the center of a small shopping center. Upon entering, you are immediately drawn to the positive mantras and words written all over the restaurant, as well as bright tapestries and drapes that hang around the restaurant.
It was clearly an Indian inspired restaurant, with the decor going above and beyond to transport you to another world; the air is filled with aromas of exotic spices, and you can find color all around, from the beautiful linens, to the pitchers of fresh squeezed orange juice, and bright colorful fruit in bowls. Although the restaurant is an homage to Indian cuisine and culture, it draws influences from all over Southern Asia, which was neat. Pondicheri doesn’t just fit into one “box,” it strives to excite the senses by experimenting and merging different flavors from all over.
Pondicheri boasts a fast-casual sit down restaurant on the first floor; you order at the front counter, take a number and find a seat, and then your food will be brought to you. Upstairs, though, is home to its Bake Lab, full of exciting dishes and exotic finds, but more about that later.
Cori Sue and I weren’t familiar with the menu to say the least, but after the rave reviews we had heard about this place, we were confident that whatever we chose would be delightful. We decided to order a bunch of different items that sounded unique and interesting and share them all.
For starters, we chose one of the “Famous Five,” a hopper, which is a Sri Lankan-inspired, crisp coconut, chia seed and rice shell filled with masala eggs, kerala sauce, and peanut coconut salad. It came out looking like a giant well-structured taco. It was bright and colorful, which had me excited to give it a try. It tasted delicious, and I especially loved the crispiness of the shell. Any Mexican restaurant could replace their hard-shell corn tacos with this healthy alternative and no one would notice. The sauce that accompanied this was especially delicious.
It also didn’t hurt that this dish was one of Pondicheri’s many gluten-free options. The restaurant does a great job representing spins on traditional fare, by having mostly vegetarian options, but it also strides to be healthy with gluten-free options and using locally sourced seasonal ingredients.
Upon reading the daily specials, Cori Sue had instantly wanted to order the saffron strawberry pancakes on special. I was delighted because, if you read my reviews, you know that though I almost always order something savory, I love to have something sweet to start with as well. These pancakes were delicious; moist and full of flavor. They were not too sweet which I really liked, and they are different than regular pancakes thanks to the subtle saffron.
For our main dishes, I went with a traditional morning thali, a traditional Indian variety plate made of chef’s recommendations like keema, uppma, potato curry, saffron cucumber raita, carrot paratha, and a fried egg—a little bit of everything. Cori Sue went with another traditional breakfast dish, masala eggs.
My dish was wonderful. I enjoyed eating my perfectly fried egg, piece by piece, followed by a bite of the different accompanying sauces and sides. The cucumber raita, a favorite of mine, was especially delicious. The potatoes had the perfect amount of curry and were yummy as well.
Cori Sue’s eggs were delicious; it was scrambled eggs with celery, bell peppers and spices, served with a side of saffron cucumber raita, as well. She also enjoyed her dish, but to be honest we were really starting to get quite full.
Of course, anytime a brunching Bitch starts to get full, it seems to be that something continues to draw you back to continue eating. Well today was no different, and to our surprise we were greeted by the Pondicheri Bake Lab’s Pastry Chef Alexa, who had with her a plate of baked goods from the upstairs bakery heaven for us to try. Wowza.
This beautiful spread of baked goods was perfect. Cori Sue is (mostly) paleo, so this means as little bread and sugar as possible, otherwise she is left with an extreme migraine. She was willing to risk it for a piece of the brioche sticky bun. Naturally, it was worth it. Lightly golden and perfectly sweet, this was one our favorite things on the entire plate.
Other noteworthy items were the bostock, a twice-baked brioche soaked in fruit and syrup topped with an almond frangipane crust, and the chocolate hazelnut cookie, another favorite of Cori Sue’s because it was gluten-free and surprisingly delicious. My personal favorite though, had to be the butter chicken kolache. Honestly, this was delicious. It was a a dollop of butter chicken surrounded by delicious pastry. Seriously, if you are a fan of Indian food, and butter chicken in particular, you must try this.
We both tried the gluten-free khandvi, a sushi-like roll-up made from chickpea and yogurt dough, filled with chili, coconut, cumin, and mustard seed. It was interesting, to say the least. I am really glad we tried it, because it was different, but I think we both had a difficult time getting over the sushi-like texture of the roll. When in Rome, they say!
Pondicheri did not disappoint. We get what all the hype was about. Even if you are not a fan of Indian food, you can find something here that will satisfy you, and get you to step a little out of your comfort zone. The pleasant and positive atmosphere is what draws you in, and the unique and exciting food is what keeps you coming back. Great news, New York Bitches and brunch lovers! Pondicheri is opening a New York City location in the upcoming months!
The Bitches Say: B+. We knock of half a grade for Pondicheri only because we had to deal with a somewhat rude employee when we called the restaurant ahead to tell them we would be running behind. Everything else was an “A” grade, and this certainly would not stop us from coming back again. Pondicheri is a cute gem in Houston, with a diverse menu full of flavors to entice you to come back again.
2800 Kirby, Ste. B132
Houston, Texas 77098
Breakfast is served Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
BitchBiz: We were hosted by Visit Houston to check out all that this not-so-little city has to offer. While this visit was comped, this article was written independently by Bitches Who Brunch.