A large excerpt of Table Talk, below, is featured in our Spring 2017 edition of My Table magazine, issue #137. To subscribe to the print edition, click here. To find it on newsstands (available March 18), click here. To get the digital edition, subscribe here.
Our cookie hero Michael Savino will soon open a third outpost with his name on it. Michael’s Cookie Cafe is set to open at 1864 Fountainview in May, in the same shopping center as Fountainview Cafe and across from H-E-B.
Also in the Tanglewood neighborhood, Tony Masraff and his son/partner Russell Masraff of Masraff’s have announced that Maclane Cafe will open at 6395 Woodway and will feature “cravable” comfort menu items like mac ’n’ cheese and fried chicken. The cafe will also have a milkshake bar. The location was previously home to Thai restaurant Nit Noi.
If you head south on Fountainview, Krisp Bird & Batter, a certified-humane chicken sandwich concept has just opened at 5922 Richmond in a former Subway location. It’s from chef Ben McPherson (previously at Prohibition Supper Club and Batanga). A second location of Krisp has already been announced for 2400 North Shepherd.
Jordan Economy (formerly chef at Bar Boheme) is the new chef at Prohibition (1008 Prairie), and he’s reworked the menu of the 1920s burlesque theater and bar to feature more seafood and small plates, in a program he’s calling The Oyster Bar. Curiously, just 230 feet to the west and across the street at 1117 Prairie is the newly opened Sam Houston Hotel restaurant The Pearl. Chris Loftis, who has worked in the kitchens of Killen’s Steakhouse and the Barbed Rose, has created a menu with a Gulf land-and-sea focus.
Sweet Times opened on February 4 at 6356 Richmond in the former home of Beaucoup Bar & Grill. Headed by Robbie Montgomery, a reality TV star on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Montgomery is also the co-owner of the soul food chain restaurant Sweetie Pies with her son Tim Norman. The Sweet Times menu also features soul food.
Speaking of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs, it was recently announced that by mid-2018, the brand-new Levy Park (on Eastside between Highway 59 and Richmond in Upper Kirby) will be home to The Woodshed, a concept being developed by Restaurant Startup chef Tim Love. Love, who hails from Fort Worth, will oversee the park’s food kiosk and beer garden, which will also feature a double-decker bus attraction.
In other park restaurant news, Jamie and Dalia Zelko’s new restaurant, Ivy & James at Evelyn’s Park (4400 Bellaire at Newcastle) is set to open on April 22, Earth Day. Items like parmesan fries, fried pickles and shrimp and grits are said to be on the menu.
Owners of the auto repair space at 2322 Bissonnet (next door to the former Kay’s Lounge) near Rice Village have filed permits and begun construction. Set to open in May, Baileson Brewing Company will be a small-batch craft brewery with the “dog friendliest” patio.
Just off the popular Heights bike path, Spring Street Bar & Wine Garden hopes to open by mid-May at 1920 Houston Avenue. A representative told the Houston Press that the location for cocktails and Old World vintages is an “opportunity to promote ‘bicycle culture and the city’s great trails.’”
Cooking Girl, the modest but wildly popular Sichuan spot at 315 Fairview, quietly closed this winter, did some light remodeling and re-opened a few days later as Pepper Twins. As you may know, Pepper Twins, located at 1915 West Gray, is the name of the newer and larger restaurant owned by Lily Luo, who is also co-owner of Cooking Girl with her sister Yunan Yang. The menu remains more or less the same, but the name and branding have been aligned.
Prelude Coffee & Tea, an espresso and tea bar, is on track to open in May at 609 Main inside the Hines Tower. Morningstar, a sibling concept from the same owners that is located in The Heights, will supply pastries, donuts and other baked goods. Green tea beverages will also be available.
Houston cocktail outpost cultivator Bobby Heugel recently opened Tongue-Cut Sparrow, and good luck finding it. Here’s a hint: Access it via a staircase inside sister bar The Pastry War at 310 Main. Tongue-Cut Sparrow – the name refers to a Japanese folktale – will appeal to a more mature clientele, we think. It seats just 24 guests, and you can make a reservation. Peter Jahnke is GM. Side note: Elyse Blechman, who worked behind the bar at neighboring Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar, is one of the first bartenders for the Japanese fable-themed den. She recently competed – and won! – the final round of the Texas Speed Rack competition, beating 18 other women on February 19. She’ll go on to compete nationally later this year. Speed Rack raises money for breast cancer research, education and prevention.
Oxheart owners Justin Yu and Karen Man announced late last year that they would close their highly regarded (albeit tiny) restaurant on March 15, 2017. After some remodeling and a change in focus, a new restaurant from Yu will open in its place as early as May. “I want to make our kitchen less awkward to work in, our dining room more comfortable and beautiful, and our food more indicative of our personality,” posted Yu on his blog.
Additionally, Houstonians can expect a “comfortable neighborhood space” called Better Luck Tomorrow* from Yu, Heugel and partner Steve Flippo to open sometime this year at 544 Yale, in a space that was previously Dry Creek Cafe. Last fall when the project was announced, it was expected to open in early 2017. However a recent drive-by showed a construction site with a spray-painted address on wood, with progress probably slowed by permitting issues from the City of Houston. (*Updated information on March 29, 2017: Terry Williams, GM at Anvil, will be director of operations at both Anvil and Better Luck Tomorrow. Alex Negranza will be bar manager. Matt Boesen, who worked in the kitchen at Oxheart, will create a menu of “fried, snacky items” and Justin Vann will oversee the wine selections. BLT is expected to open in late April.)
Heugel and Kevin Floyd, who previously represented the Clumsy Butcher restaurant-and-bar group together, recently traded interests in several of Houston bars they founded as partners over the last five years. Floyd gave his interest in The Nightingale Room, The Pastry War and Anvil Bar & Refuge to Heugel while Heugel did the same with his stake in Hay Merchant, Blacksmith and Underbelly. The Clumsy Butcher group was announced as dissolved last October.
Downtown’s culinary choices continue to expand with another location of Irma’s Southwest Grill. The Houston Mexican staple has signed on to build out a large restaurant in the first floor of forthcoming luxury apartment building The Catalyst at 1475 Texas (at La Branch). The new restaurant from beloved restaurateur Irma Galvan will serve a grand Mexican breakfast. The current Irma’s Southwest Grill (located nearby at 1314 Texas) may undergo a rebranding, according to Eater. Estimated opening date is before the 2017 holidays.
A second location of Vino & Vinyl, the wine-and-record retail and tasting tavern in Missouri City, has opened in the former Aura Brasserie space at 15977 City Walk in Sugar Land. Tori Bergersen is chef.
Across town to the northwest, Humble is getting White Lightning Dancehall & Saloon, a Las Vegas-inspired C&W music nightclub that will house three bars: a daiquiri bar, a craft beer bar, and a 70-foot bar boasting more than 700 selections of whiskey, bourbon and moonshine. Whiskey Thumper, the restaurant feeding the happy-footed customers, offers Southern comfort entrées and wild-game hot dogs.
Judy Henrichsen, the dynamo previously at Brothers Produce and elsewhere, has joined the Houston Food Bank as the agriculture industry manager. If your farm or distribution company wants to offload produce or meat, she’s the person to contact.
After eight years of wine service, Angie Chang has parted ways with Sonoma Wine Bar & Restaurant. Angie will be traveling, and we hope to see her in Houston dining rooms again soon. Wine bar Camerata recently welcomed new GM Chris Poldoian to its roster of knowledgeable sommeliers. Pax Americana owners Dan Zimmerman and Shepard Ross have promoted chef de cuisine Martha de Leon to executive chef. Omar Pereney, the brilliant 22-year-old executive chef at Peska, has left the restaurant, which also recently revamped its concept. Peska Seafood Culture is now Peska Seafood & Steaks.
Humble will gain a new Louisiana-focused eatery, The Lost Cajun, at 7042 FM 1960 East. The chain currently has multiple locations in Colorado, Tennessee and South Carolina, as well as Odessa and Midland,Texas. The restaurant is scheduled to open in March.
Restaurants keep popping up in Houston’s Energy Corridor. Agu Ramen, a Hawaiian import, has opened its doors on Eldridge near Westheimer, followed by the most recent outpost of Avalon Diner, located on I-10 near the Kirkwood exit.
Chobani Cafe (yes, the yogurt company) has opened its first Texas restaurant inside of a new, technology test-market location of Walmart in Tomball. The 25800 Kuykendahl prototype store opened in February and features specialty software for shoppers and a “non-check-out line” configuration. The supercenter also features a health clinic, so shoppers can get both their probiotics and their antibiotics.
Sizzling meat delivery business Fajita Pete’s opened a sixth Houston-area location in Katy in January and a seventh store in Pearland in February. A forthcoming Fajita Pete’s in Sienna Plantation has also been announced.
The hipsters are coming! Actually, they’ve already arrived and they’re drinking very well. East Downtown (or EaDo) continues to attract residents and bars as market value in the area rises. Paul Revere Rum Distillery opened in EaDo in February (on Dallas at Hutchins) and is a neighbor to charming watering hole Around The Corner Bar and 8th Wonder Brewery.
Nearly a year ago, King’s Bierhouse of Pearland spread word that they were opening a Heights location on East TC Jester in a development across from White Oak bayou. The owners, Austrian father and son restaurateurs Hans and Philipp Sitter, more recently announced that location will open in April. A third location (with a very large patio, making it a true bay-area biergarten) has been set to open sometime soon in League City.
In The Woodlands, wine bar Broken Barrel opened in February and has had positive reviews from Houston-area media since it began service at Hughes Landing. Chef/owner Hilda Ysusi heads up a menu of international cuisine and has expanded service hours to include brunch on Sundays. People are buzzing about the patio and happy hour promotions.
And in the spirit of happy hour, Sunday Funday and celebrating life in general, Hamburger Mary’s, the drag queen favorite franchise that originated in San Francisco has taken over 2409 Grant. The restaurant, which opened on February 24, is known for punny menu items, karaoke nights and drag entertainment and told the Houston Press that it may extend its kitchen hours past 2 am in the future, in order to feed hungry party animals in the neighborhood. We’re looking forward to trying the Mary Tyler S’Mores.