The Art -- and Artists -- of Underbelly's Wine Menu

Underbelly's wine menu is getting a lot of attention, and it's not because of the selection.

29-95.com's Greg Morago called the new Westheimer restaurant's wine book possibly the "most entertaining and diverting restaurant document in town." And since Underbelly opened earlier this month, the colorful menu hasn't gone unnoticed by its diners, either.

"You hear them chuckling," said bartender Bryan Whitener. "You know they're having a good time with it."

So what's so funny? Scattered throughout the 19-page listings of reds and whites, you'll find a salute to the Beastie Boys and wine connoisseur Mike D, a choice quote from famed wine importer Terry Theise about the value of sweet wine, and quirky art created just for the book by local artists.

"We wanted it to be little more in your face and edgy than your normal wine list, not all flowers and rose like a lot of them are," said general manager Matthew Pridgen, who wrote the wine list. "We wanted to do something a little bit different than the norm and make it fun and entertaining to read."

Some of the wine- and Houston-inspired art includes sketches of a boxing Sul Ross, surrounded by grapes, wine and a woman holding an Okra sign (appropriate, given that Underbelly co-owner Bobby Heugel is also one of the co-founders of the bar and restaurant collaborative), an astronaut, and a Richard Nixon-esque figure with the Enron logo behind him and a glass of wine in front of him.

After the jump, Heugel takes us through the book and tells us a little more about the hand-picked artists.

Diana Cook Astronaut, frat boy and child illustration on page 1

"Diana is a college student and illustrator aiming for a master's degree in the field. She's a local Houstonian and has done illustration work for various corporate enterprises, work commissioned by individuals, and is working on her own children's books."

Matthew Tabor Sul Ross illustration on page 6

"A multi-talented artistic wonder. Aside from his incredible sketches, Matt can also be found slinging incredible coffee at one of our favorite Montrose food destinations -- Paulie's. Paulie's is just to the east of us just beyond Dunlavy on Westheimer."

Kelly Phillips Man holding strawberries illustration on page 7; Enron illustration on page 9

"Not a native Houstonian, but dang glad she moved here by choice. A mild(ish) mannered business woman by day, and a super creative bunny by night using her powers to spread art and creative obscurity around Houston."

Ack! Photograph of street art on page 17

"One of Houston best local street artists."

Bryan Sewell Wine lady illustration on page 19

"Perhaps not your typical IT go-to guy, Bryan finds enjoyment in the finer things in life, namely Star Wars, cardigans and dance-offs. One thousand miles from home, he's getting settled into the Bayou City by embracing local activities including museum adventuring, seeking out old oak trees and sipping on waxing poetics."

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