When you have had all the bread and wine you want, you shall tell me where you come from and what your troubles are. -- Eumaeus, Homer's Odyssey
Back in ancient Greece, gods walked among humans disguised as all kinds of things: bulls, golden showers, strange humans. 'Twas best to be nice to just about anyone you met, 'cause you never knew if that stranger at your door was a heavenly creature looking for an excuse to smite your ass. Thus Greek hospitality was born, and it's been going strong ever since.
Fast-forward to present-day Houston, where Ilias Giannakopoulos and Dora Manolopoulos recently opened Byzantio Cafe on West Gray. Nestled in a drab building that used to be Giannakopoulos's house, this cafe-by-day/bar-by-night is an upscale alternative to the area's wealth of dive bars and diners. (Dives are fun, but it never hurts to go Euro every once in a while.)
The owners of Byzantio have teamed up with the Variety Club of Houston for a seriously hip and hospitable grand opening party. The Variety Club is peppering the place with models, while the Byzantio staff is serving up free appetizers and a plethora of mixed drinks. Also expect live music from singer-songwriter Bobby Smith and a book signing by George Molho, author of Greek Coffee. And, as is usual among those bacchanalian Greeks, dancing on the bar is encouraged. Says Manolopoulos, "It's a Greek thing." 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 25. 403 West Gray. For information, call 713-520-6896. Free. -- Keith Plocek
The Cheesecake Factory's J.W.'s Pink Lemonade
After breakfast at the Avalon, a lazy stroll through a couple of museums and a no-holds-barred steamy reunion kiss with my ex, a torrential rain came down. It put me in the mood for love, but this girl had another four- letter word on her mind: shop. One thing was for sure -- spending a day at the Galleria with her was going to send me to the poor house. Of course, I didn't mind following her around Neiman Marcus and trying on some pimpin' black loafers, but what the hell do you say to his-and-her Cartier watches? I needed a drink before my blood pressure crashed through the glass roof. We settled into a booth upstairs at The Cheesecake Factory (5015 Westheimer, 713-840-0600) and proceeded to knock back more than a few of their specialty drinks. Tammy the waitress kept us laughing with her one-liners. We tried everything from margaritas to something called a lemon sunburst, but my favorite was a drink called J.W.'s pink lemonade. Just when I thought my shopping woes were behind me, I returned from the restroom to find my date staring at one of the full-page watch ads printed inside the menu. Only at the Galleria.
1-1/2 ounces Absolut Citron vodka
1/2 ounce Chambord
3 ounces fresh pink lemonade
Packet of sugar
1 lemon wedge
Moisten the rim of a tall old-fashioned ice cream soda glass with a wedge of lemon and lightly spin upside down to coat the rim with sugar. Fill with ice. Measure out vodka and Chambord and top off with pink lemonade. Quenching on a picnic. -- J.W. Crooker
One Bad MFR
DJ MFR can rock the party -- you can tell by his voice. Maybe he's hype because he's working on his new album, or maybe getting down is just genetic for the native Italian (his moniker stands for "Marco from Rome"). "Growing up in Italy, it's natural," he says. "It's part of the culture." Whatever. The San Francisco-based DJ and co-owner of Transport Records is out to spin his trademark deep soul sound for groove lovers everywhere. "It's mellow, but it's also funky, dubby, and it's got a bouncing beat that makes you move," he says. "I'm expecting people to be dancing all night." 9 p.m. Friday, May 21. Clark's Lounge, 314 Main, 713-237-8220. $10. -- Steven Devadanam
Finding Mr. Write
Remember the good ol' days of grade-school hookups? Back then you'd simply hand the object of your affection a specially folded note reading, "Do you like me? Check yes or no," and then stick around or bail depending on the answer. The Quiet Party at Stag's Head Pub offers some textual healing for those hung up by halitosis, a nervous stutter or lines like "What's your sign?" Guests check each other out, scribble greetings (or messages even more risqué) and let their pens do the talking. Dress to impress, bust out your Byron and remember, when complimenting her attire, to leave the "f" out of "phat." 7 p.m. Thursday, May 20. 2128 Portsmouth. For information, call 713-533-1199. $6. -- Steven Devadanam