The Place: Hendricks Pub & Eatery 3320 Kirby 713-522-1500 www.hendrickspub.com The Deals: $1 off drafts and wells
The Hours: 3 to 7 p.m.
The Scene: Have you ever tried repeating a word until it begins to sound like a series of meaningless noises? We feel like we're halfway there with the word "pub."
Hendricks probably isn't claiming that its food somehow makes it a pub, because that would be wrong, and it would make the "eatery" part of the name redundant. So it must be an attempt to denote some kind of warm, neighborhood feel. The bar is technically in a neighborhood. And if you stand in the parking lot, it gets pretty warm.
Inside, it's colder. A big island bar dominates the main room, and there's the requisite dark wood there and in the booths along the walls. When we went the TVs were tuned to sports news. Pop music was piped in at a reasonable volume from somewhere; there's no jukebox. The place is clean, almost to a fault. The atmosphere feels anonymous, like that of fellow ersatz pub Sherlock's, and it's probably starker than the funeral home that used to occupy the address.
The beer and cocktail list switches between pretentious (calling Miller Lite an "American light lager" is kind of unnecessary, and this is coming from someone who just used the word "ersatz") and deliberately informal. The latter comes in the "Funday" section of the cocktail menu, which includes variations on classics, like a bloody Henry with Hendricks gin and Zing Zang (not bad for a pre-made mix but still a waste of nice gin), and new creations, like the three-rum Lost My Phone Punch! (We hope we don't need to note that the exclamation point is theirs.) They have another bloody Mary variation that features Slap Ya Mama hot sauce, which a reliable source told me is the only decent thing to ever come out of Ville Platte, Louisiana.
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The Hand Crafted Cocktails section, which probably wouldn't have existed five years ago, features $8 to $9 drinks like a gimlet and a Manhattan and a refreshing Jameson-based drink called Irish Lemonade. There's also a cosmo variation. Actually, that one may have been on the menu five years ago. The beer list isn't quite Ginger Man-caliber, but it's long enough, with about 30 bottles and 20 drafts. The food varies from burgers to flatbread pizza to shepherds pie ($15) and braised short ribs ($20).
The elevated/post-fried-crap-basket food menu, the good beer offerings and often goofy cocktail list seem designed to attract some of the younger money moving into this part of Kirby. By 5:15 on a Tuesday, happy hour had already drawn a decent number of men and women who looked like they'd very recently turned off their monitors or closed their laptops. There's no shortage of white collar workers in the area, but there's never a shortage of dead people, either, and a year from now, few besides the former Radio Music Theatre folks will remember there was once a funeral home where that one bar is now. Sorry - pub.