Coal Vines bills itself as a pizza and wine bar, but on a recent visit I discovered there’s more to this place than just pizza. Coal Vines is a Dallas-based restaurant with several locations, mainly in Texas. The only Houston-area location is in Sugar Land.
Coal Vines is located in the Whole Foods shopping center at Highway 59 South and Highway 6. We had eaten at Coal Vines once before, shortly after they first opened (I think in 2011). The food was ok, but we decided that for pizza, we preferred Grimaldi’s. Nevertheless, we recently decided to give it another try.
Coal Vines has a patio with a misting system, but it was still too warm for outdoor dining, so we ate indoors. The dining room is relatively small, and I like that there is plenty of space between the tables. There is also bar seating if you just want to stop in for a drink. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed.
Coal Vines offers a decent selection of wines by the glass, and the pours were very generous. While we browsed the menu, we snacked on the zucchini “chips” that were on the table. These are hard to describe, but they are very thinly sliced zucchini that appear to be lightly breaded, tossed in olive oil and perhaps pan fried? However they are made, they are surprisingly yummy, and I couldn’t stop eating them!
I wasn’t in a pizza mood on the night we visited, so I examined the menu for other options. First, I was pleased to note that one of the chalkboards on the wall listed a variety of Houston Dairymaids cheeses available. We ordered the Granbury Gold Vintage, Lafte Da Caerphilly, and Greenhill Sweetgrass Brie. The cheeses were cubed and served with little toasted bread slices and fresh fruit. The Granbury Gold was sharp and smoky in flavor and seemed to literally melt in your mouth, coating it with flavor. The Caerphilly was a white cheese that was mild with no distinct flavors that really stood out. The Brie was creamy, but a bit firmer than some I’ve had and with a slightly nutty flavor.
My husband ordered a small pepperoni and Italian sausage pizza. The pizza here is thin crust, and the tomato sauce has a sweet flavor. As you can see in the photo, the pizza was heavy on sauce with less cheese than I typically prefer. I generally like a spicier sauce, but the bite of pizza that I tried was good.
I chose one of the chef specials that was posted on a chalkboard on the wall — the Lemon Pepper Redfish, which was finished with a bianco sauce and served with mushroom risotto and green beans, carrots, and zucchini. The fish was perfectly cooked, well seasoned and wonderfully delicious! The mushroom risotto was ok. It was a nice accompaniment to the fish, but a bit too “mushroomy” for my taste. The veggies were good, though most things slathered in butter are tasty.
Dessert options were house-made cheesecake, tiramisu, or gelato. We tried the cheesecake, even though my husband is not generally a big fan. It was creamy with a caramel flavor. The top was almost like a coffee cake or fruit crisp. This was not your typical cheesecake, and we were both a bit surprised at how much we enjoyed it.
Coal Vines has struck the right balance between casual atmosphere and quality, well prepared food. The pizza was good, but my fish was excellent, and I am now curious to try other non-pizza options on the menu. I also like the availability of artisanal cheese, which isn’t something you often see out here. The service was quite good, and we left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.
What’s your favorite thing to eat at Coal Vines? Let me know in the comments.