Dead Moose
My fax machine was the bearer of sad tidings recently: an announcement from longtime restaurateur Bill Sadler, et al., of the closing of the two-year-old Moose Cafe, Sadler's high-profile experiment with Pacific Northwest smokehousing.
Sadler and crony Charles Watkins of the Sierra Grill intend to offer a new restaurant at the same Montrose location (1340 West Gray) -- an eatery that will be "more familiar to Houstonians," the fax said. (Do I detect a whiff of bitterness?) The pair had tried, and failed, to nail down a downtown location -- like everyone else nowadays -- before deciding to do away with the Moose.

Now, Mr. Bill's back on a Tex-Mex bent. The new restaurant, dubbed The Blue Agave after the succulent source of tequila, will lean heavily on Tex-Mex tradition with just a sprinkling of authentic Mexican dishes -- more Ninfa than Noche, according to Sadler. "Don't underestimate Tex-Mex," he warns. "Mama Ninfa is one of the best chefs this town has ever seen."

Look for The Blue Agave to open within a couple of weeks, as soon as the face-lift is complete at the corner of West Gray and Waugh. Sadler mysteriously hints that he had big fun shopping in Mexico for a "very, very different look" for the place, and has dropped some serious cash on a top-notch sound system for the bar. Judging by Sadler's track record -- besides the Moose, he's hatched sophisticated eateries such as Cafe Noche and the River Cafe -- bet on The Blue Agave to be a scene to be seen.

-- Margaret L. Briggs

Cable Cuisine
Ever wanted to give a chef access to the contents of your refrigerator? That's the premise of the Food Network's wildly popular Ready ... Set ... Cook! The half-hour cable show pits two well-known chefs against each other, armed with $10 in foodstuffs and access to a full pantry. They must then transform the odd kumquat and salmon into something they might put on their own menus.

Now you can cast your own vote for either of two formidable local chefs -- Arturo Boada of Solero or Sierra Grill's Charlie Watkins -- as host Sissy Biggers eggs them on during a Houston taping Sunday, April 5, at the Westin Galleria Hotel. (For ticket information, call 1 [800] 949-CHEF.)

But brace yourself: No one, not even a chef, can create magic in 18 minutes. Filming lasts from noon till 5 p.m. -- a whopping five hours -- during which time you'll get to see the slicing, dicing and other hard work that normally ends up on the cutting-room floor.

-- Bobette Riner

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