Hubbell & Hudson Bistro Austin Simmons became Hubbell & Hudson Bistro's executive chef in 2010.[/caption]

When Hubbell & Hudson Bistro reopened in December, executive chef Austin Simmons brought a global influence and fine-dining concept tailored to reflect the growing tastes of The Woodlands.

Simmons offers Cure8—a fine dining tasting concept with a progressive-style menu—a concept that acts as a restaurant within a restaurant.

Simmons said his inspiration to incorporate Cure8 into Hubbell & Hudson Bistro came to him after serving private tasting events and seeing a growing demand in the area for fine dining cuisine. To accommodate Cure8, Hubbell & Hudson Bistro closed its market space in October and doubled its bistro area to 4,000 square feet, which now includes five private rooms, a larger bar area, a lounge area and a chef's room.

"Everything in The Woodlands is evolving, and as I started building more relationships within the community, I saw more demand for a progressive menu and dining experience," Simmons said. "I feel like we can give The Woodlands something it has never had before."

Simmons said Cure8 is housed in the chef's room and provides an eight-course menu for customers. Each event features a menu that progresses each dish from lighter to heavier foods throughout the meal.

"I try to progress the menu [from] very light, like with raw fish, into more heavier proteins," he said. "We are trying to keep the diner guessing the whole night through. You are always wanting the last bite of the last dish but cannot wait for the first bite of the next one."

To book a tasting through the Cure8 program, parties must have a minimum of six individuals. Simmons said the menu is tailored to the party's palette and can account for food allergies.

Alongside the new restaurant layout, Simmons also incorporated a diversified menu grounded in seafood, steak, vegetable and Italian options. Simmons said the new menu draws its ingredients from local vendors and different tastes throughout the U.S. and the world. For example, Hubbell & Hudson Bistro imports its fish and oysters from the East Coast and its octopus from Mediterranean Sea vendors.

"In my opinion, there is some very good seafood that comes out of the Gulf [of Mexico] but cold water seafood [from the East Coast] is very special," Simmons said.

Even with a diverse seafood selection, Simmons said many customers are still drawn to the in-house cured steak.

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro serves two steak options, Akaushi and Midwestern, that undergo different dry age programs.

Dry aging involves housing meat in a controlled environment with monitored temperatures and humidity. Simmons said the process dehydrates the water in the meat to concentrate the fat and protein. During dehydration, the intermuscular tissue and enzymes are broken down to produce a tender and flavorful steak.

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro dry ages its Midwestern steak for 120 days and its Akaushi steak for 30 days. Although the aging results in a dryer steak, Simmons said it intensifies the meat's natural flavors.

"People are just shocked at the amount of flavor," he said. "As far as I know, we are one of the only restaurants in Houston that has a 120-day program."

Thinking ahead, Simmons said he wants to expand his Cure8 program while continuing to offer a welcoming environment for customers.

"You feel comfortable coming in with your khaki shorts and fishing shirt to have dinner with us," he said. "We are striving for those fine dining details. The only things that separates casual dining, semi-fine dining and fine dining are the details."

Akaushi beef

Akaushi cattle draw its roots from Kumamoto, Japan—a small city on Kyushu Island. Akaushi cattle are split into two groups: Holsteins and Wagyu. Hubbell & Hudson Bistro use Wagyu cattle steak from HeartBrand Beef due to how its livestock are fed and raised. Wagyu cattle are massaged and fed beer or sake to increase their diets to produce tender meat.

A small group of Akaushi cows and bulls were brought to the U.S. Today, HeartBrand Beef is one of the only certified suppliers of Akaushi beef in Texas.

Customer favorites

  • Crispy Brussels sprouts–Leafy greens are glazed with caramel white soy and chili and served with Parmigiano-Reggiano. ($8)

  • Rack of lamb–The restaurant's roasted lamb dish is served with a fennel puree, pickled fennel, fennel fronds salad, orange gastrique and fennel pollen. ($29)

Gluten-free options

  • East Coast oysters–The bistro's oysters are served with cracker bread, lemon, Tabasco sauce, San Bai Zu Granita and dashi Thai chili cocktail sauce. (Market price)

  • Red wine-braised octopus–The dish is served on a cabernet and saffron reduction with shaved fennel and artichoke salad with a prosciutto chip. ($20)

  • Burgundy snails–The dish is served with a potato gnocchi, parsley and watercress puree and warm garlic butter. ($15)

24 Waterway Ave., Ste. 125, The Woodlands, 281-203-5641,

Hours: Mon.–Thu. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–midnight, Sun. 9 a.m.–10 p.m.