The owners of Cabo, Mike and Anthony Roberson, have opened a new Cajun place in west Houston — on the edge of Chinatown, actually — called Mama Assumption's (6609 Sam Houston Pkwy. South). They named the restaurant after Assumption Parish in Louisiana, which is right smack in the middle of the path that Hurricane Katrina took when it made landfall in 2005. Asked why they put a Cajun restaurant in Chinatown, Mike says, "The Asian community loves seafood, just like the Cajuns. We also have fried rice on the menu. Besides, we're close to major engineering companies that employ a lot of people from Louisiana, and even though we've only been open three weeks and have done no advertising, the word's out. At lunch, we're slammed every day, and at least 30 percent of our customers are natives of Louisiana."
Mike says the menu "is a mixture of authentic Cajun food like red beans and rice, blackened redfish, étouffée and crawfish, with soul food like oxtails and fried chicken and waffles." Happy hour, which offers up $.29 oysters, $.39 wings and $.49 shrimp, is packing the place. Along with the bar, the fresh seafood display takes up most of the expansive back wall of the restaurant, making it easy to see what you're getting.
In a space on Mid Lane that has housed at least four other restaurants in as many years, three young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs are trying something different. "We're trying something that no one else is doing in Houston," says co-owner Craig Bloom, "cooking food without a kitchen!" The place is called Capone's Bar and Oven (4304 Westheimer), and it's decorated with black-and-white photos of gangsters. Craig used to be the head bartender at Smith & Wollensky; his partner, Bob Covington, the chef, was the wine buyer at Flemings; and the third partner, Danny Barkus, used to be the bartender at Brian O'Neal's. None of the owners has any real experience in the kitchen, but they're not deterred. Having inherited a woodburning brick oven from a previous occupant, they've decided to make unusual pizzas, including one with Meyer lemon and salad greens topped with vinaigrette, and one with Tabasco-infused pineapple, bacon and barbecue sauce. We'll have to see how the idea pans out. Other offerings include tapas, a cheese plate and salads.
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In keeping with the gangster theme, the owners have named the back of the place The Hideout, and they describe it as "a sort of speakeasy bar." One thing's for sure: With their collective wine-buying and bartending experience, these guys at least know how to run a bar.