Concept: Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Kitchen
Chefs: Felix Florez and Jessica Timmons
Known for: Black Hill Ranch, Landry’s
Cuisine: Gulf Coast and Texas traditions
Chefs Feliz Florez and Jessica Timmons are the kind of business partners who finish each other’s sentences. As they discuss their plans for Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Kitchen, they fall into an easy rapport born from affection, trust and respect.
“I hit upon the name Cherry Block because when you say it, it sounds good,” says Florez.
“It’s not intimidating to pronounce,” interjects Timmons.
“It’s also an ode to the old butchers of the 1900s, the ‘20s, ‘30s, with blood on the bibs of their aprons,” elaborates Florez.
For Florez, Cherry Block is one more prong in an already thriving business that includes Black Hill Ranch, a farm offering fine cuts of beef and pork to restaurants and individuals. For Timmons, who left the Landry’s empire after more than a decade, and who was a partner in Alvin’s Caboose BBQ, it’s an opportunity to blend her culinary chops with front-of-house skills. Since Bravery Chef Hall’s design puts chefs not only at the stove or the grill, but also in front of guests, the energy Florez and Timmons exude should make Cherry Block a popular destination.
“It’s going to be awesome!” Timmons said just prior to Bravery opening its doors, both about the restaurant and working with Florez, who readily agreed.
Cherry Block’s kitchen space is anchored by a massive butcher block of cherry wood (of course) custom-designed for the space by a company in the Heights. All of the dishes are prepared on a grill and smoker that Florez made himself, big, black, heavy iron things with hints of copper and brass.
Florez opened Black Hill Ranch in 2009 as something of a side project.
“My ultimate goal was to take a product from point A to point Z,” Florez explains. “With Black Hill, we’d raise and harvest and sell pork to wholesalers and that took us from point A to about G. With Cherry Block, we’re raising the animals, harvesting them, and then getting them into our restaurant and making our dishes to put in front of diners, which is that A to Z I was looking for.”
Using his own products means that Florez can assure guests of its high quality. With a menu that includes dishes like pork chops, mac and cheese, burgers, shrimp and cracklins, and blackened catfish with alligator sausage, Cherry Block takes Florez’s commitment to sustainable practices and combines it with Texas passion and home cooking.
“We wanted to offer things that people know and understand,” says Timmons about the menu.
That doesn’t mean Cherry Block is skimping on either creativity or quality. Everything on the menu is done in-house, and the restaurant offers exceptional cuts of beef and pork, butchered to Florez’s and Timmons’ specifications, providing a fine-dining experience at an attractive price point.
“I think the steak and eggs is going to be a huge hit,” says Timmons. “It’s a seared RC Ranch Wagyu with uni aioli and blind fish roe.”
“We’re also doing a dish called Gulf and Ranch,” says Florez.
For the Gulf and Ranch, Florez takes the spinalis, the muscle that surrounds the eye of the rib eye, peels it away and stuffs it with shrimp andouille sausage. “We’ll roll it, like a porchetta, and then finish it on our wood-fire grill,” he explains.
The pair is excited to be around such a talented group of fellow chefs. They also can’t wait to have their guests come to know them and the rest of the Cherry Block team, and they fully expect diners will create a sort of DIY progressive dinner or lunch when they come in.
“Come in and grab something from The Blind Goat and from us,” says Timmons. “You know, mix and match with a bunch of small plates,” says Timmons.
“Yeah, if you come in with a group, split up, get a bunch of things, and let everybody share,” finishes Florez.
The two laugh at each other in a way that shows they’re so comfortable working together, diners should get ready for a great experience.