With an opening date seemingly in sight, the latest food buzz is centered around Chef Michael Gaspard's Brasserie 19. Gaspard's partners in the new venture, Charles Clark and Grant Cooper, are already old hands at shaping Houston's dining scene; the pair are also responsible for Ibiza and the soon-to-be-revamped Catalan.
On April 15, the restaurant Tweeted, "Dinner menu..check. lunch menu...check. all day brunch menu.. check...restaurant two weeks. LETS GO!" And then again on April 19, as if palates weren't already primed for the new place, which is taking over the old Tony Mandola's location on West Gray, the restaurant Tweeted the picture to the left of one of its dishes: a ravioli stuffed with local Pure Luck cheese. And they kept the food porn coming that afternoon, as with this photo of Texas sweet onion soup with pulled short rib and marrow toast. It seems mostly in keeping with the Brasserie's self-defined menu of light-handed French classics tempered with a Gulf Coast touch.
But not every piece of restaurant news from the last week has been so happily received. Late last week, Mingalone -- the last remaining original tenant in Bayou Place -- closed after 14 years. Word from two very reliable sources tell me, however, that Mingalone didn't close voluntarily but was kicked out by Bayou Place Limited Partnership much in the same vein as the quick and quiet Angelika shuttering. It appears as if the management company is resolute in its efforts to give the downtown entertainment block a facelift from top to bottom. On the other hand, I also hear that Mingalone's next door neighbor was the happy recipient of some of its better bottles of unsold wine...
Of course, that's not all.
Two more unexpected closures startled diners this week: Sabine River Cafe, which was just sending out press releases about its new menu as recently as last week, and
Patisserie Thierry Andre Tellier. Sabine's managing partner Chuck Krauthamer sent this short and sweet note:
I just wanted to let you know that after two years of serving our home-style Cajun/Creole and Texas country cooking, my partners and I closed Sabine River Café on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. We look forward to serving you soon at our next restaurant.
And across town, Patisserie Thierry Andre Tellier closed after moving several times and finally coming to rest at Uptown Park. I'm a little surprised that the River Oaks-y bakery wasn't successful in its last location, but it may just be that its demographic is becoming extinct. As one of our Twitter followers said in response to the news on Wednesday, "Where will the 60+ set go for carrot-raisin salad??" Ed. Note: We received information this morning that Theirry Andre Tellier is not closed, but that it's in the process of moving. The owner says that the Uptown location is still open, but that the phone lines have been down at all of the locations, which is why we couldn't get in touch with anyone. The bakery's website was also updated this morning to reflect the news.
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In possibly the least unexpected news, Chef Michael Kramer announced yesterday that he's leaving The Tasting Room in what the Chronicle's Greg Morago described as an amicable split. Perhaps he took our exhortation last week to heart -- "Kramer, listen: You are better than all of this." -- and we can't blame him. A chef as talented as Kramer deserves a restaurant of his very own.
But will he stay in Houston? We can only hope.