October 1, 2022

Renowned chef now has his own restaurant in downtown Houston

Over the past 15 years, Chief Jose Hernandez built a successful career in Houston. Highlights include stunning diners with beautiful, meticulous desserts at Triniti; being the opening chef of La Balance and Radio Milano; and most recently overseeing all culinary operations at Hotel Alessandra, including the restaurant at Hotel Lucienne. The hotel closed in January 2021. Last February, Hernandez took more control over his future, quietly taking ownership of Park Brewery. The restaurant, located at 1440 Lamar at One Park Place in downtown Houston, was once owned by chef Philippe Verpiand and Monica Bui d’Etoile in Uptown Park.

Why the Quiet Transition? “I wasn’t ready to talk to the media about it until I made some changes,” Hernandez said. One thing that won’t change is the name; Hernandez plans to keep him. In addition, he wishes to maintain a relaxed environment while offering refined dishes. “It’s laid back,” he said. “We have a great view of Discovery Green. The corner of the building where we are is very well located.

The terrace of the Brasserie du Parc. Courtesy picture.

According to a statement from Verpiand, he had invited Hernandez to be a part of Brasserie du Parc when it opened. “When we started planning the opening of Brasserie du Parc in 2016, four years after the opening of Etoile, we went to see José to ask him to be our chef there. We were already fans of his talent and cooking and we thought he would be a perfect fit for the new restaurant, however he was happy with his position as executive chef at the time and had to say no,” said Verpiand.

However, with the hotel closed Alessandra and Verpiand and Bui caring for a sick family member, the time had come for Hernandez to step in. He left a short-lived role as culinary director of Berg Hospitality, and bought the Brasserie du Parc. “We worked with him to make the transition smooth, and now I think everyone is very happy with the results,” added Verpiand.

lobster salad at the park's brewery in downtown Houston
Lobster salad at Brasserie du Parc in downtown Houston. Courtesy picture.

Hernandez says diners who have visited his previous restaurants can expect the same beautifully prepared dishes; an approach that relies on a combination of classic French training and ingredient selections based on flavor and seasonality. For example, its deceptive simplicity Tuna tartar sauce blends French, Mexican and Japanese influences including wasabi-soya sauce, avocado and seaweed. His lobster salad offers generous butter-poached pieces of the crustacean of the same name on a mixture of garden lettuce, grapefruit, avocado and tomato, all dressed in a citrus vinaigrette.

There are of course French standards, including snail with garlic butter, onion soup with Crostini and Gruyere and steak and chips (along with an eight-ounce flat steak with fries and a spring salad).

Beef Bourguignon at the Brasserie du Parc
Beef Bourguignon at the Brasserie du Parc. Courtesy picture.

While there’s an overlap between the dishes Verpiand serves and what Hernandez serves now, the latter says he brings his own style and perspective. “People like the way I do beef bourguignon, so it’s a dish that I changed the presentation and flavors of,” Hernandez says. His version features pearl onions, carrots and pancetta dipped in a red wine sauce and served over mashed potatoes.

Other dishes lean towards the whimsical, such as pan-fried foie gras presented as a mini-burger with caramelized onions, candied tomatoes, quail egg and red wine reduction; and milk chocolate moussepresented as a space-age orb with a frilly tail of shaved chocolate covered in almond dacquoise on a “landing pad” of nougatine.

Milk chocolate mousse at the Brasserie du Parc
Milk chocolate mousse at the Brasserie du Parc. Courtesy picture.

Hopefully Hernandez’s acquisition of the Brasserie du Parc lease means he enters another phase of an extended career, the results of which he and diners will enjoy.

The Brasserie du Parc is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4 p.m. 9 p.m.). at 4 p.m.) Additional information and reservations can be found online.