Times are tough for everyone, including the hospitality industry. But that doesn't mean all hope is lost, as Houston's food community has proven to be a strong one. Here's a look at what's going on in the food world during the COVID-19 crisis, including restaurant re-openings, a virtual Thai cooking class, and DIY meal kits for Handrolls and Bananas Foster.
Dine-in burgers are back! As of Wednesday, May 13, The Burger Joint, 2703 Montrose, 2002 North Shepherd, has re-opened both locations, with only patio/outdoor seating available for now. The line for dine-in will start at the entrance to the patios with taped spots to adhere to safe social distancing protocols. One customer will be allowed in to order at a time and after ordering, a staff member will take them to their sanitized seats and tables. To-go orders will still continue and can be picked up at curbside tents.
Starting Thursday, May 14 at 3 p.m., Hugo’s, 1600 Westheimer, will also open its doors for dine-in service (with curbside and delivery orders to continue as well). The Mexican favorite will be serving a condensed menu and will have several safety measures in place, including employee screening and temperatures taken before each shift; sanitation stations at the entrance and throughout the restaurant; disposable one-time-use menus; and masked and gloved staff. Guests are asked to wear masks when they enter the restaurant and until they are seated at their table, and wear them again when they are leaving their table. Hugo’s will be open Monday to Friday from 3 to 9 p.m., with the last reservation time at 8:30 p.m. (happy hour is 3-6 p.m Monday to Saturday). On weekends, Hugo’s will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Chef Sunil Srivastava, owner of Verandah Progressive Indian Restaurant, 3300 Kirby, is reintroducing his signature tasting menus on selected nights each month beginning Friday, May 15. His first multi-course creation will focus on the mysteries of Indian curry, showcasing healing spices and herbs in a variety of curry dishes, including seafood, vegetarian and chicken. Expect dishes like Kon Kan Shrimp Curry made with coconut milk, Subz Moillee, a vegetarian curry dish with broccoli, carrots, beans and cauliflower, and Tariwala Chicken, a curry with caramelized onion, yogurt and ginger. The special Curry Tasting Menu is offered in addition to Verandah’s full menu listed on its website. It continues to offer curbside services for orders as well. Reservations for dine-in service of the tasting menu should be made 24-48 hours in advance. Call 281-501-0258 or 832-886-4291 or visit verandahrestaurant.com.
On Saturday, May 16, the "I’ll Have What She’s Having" virtual cooking series continues as chef Benchawan "Kit" Jabthong passes on lessons from her grandmother and guides the class through the creation of classic Thai dishes: Tom Yum soup, summer rolls, drunken noodles. As an added bonus, IHWSH volunteer and cocktail star Lainey Collum will tune in from San Francisco to give bartending tips to chef Dawn Burrell as they re-create her Shiso Szechuan Spritz. Join the fun with interactive webinar access for $10. Meal kits can be pre-purchased for $75 and include recipes and ingredients for a Thai meal for four and the cocktail, plus the live Zoom broadcast and access to it post-class.
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Creole favorite Brennan’s of Houston, 3300 Smith, has introduced kits to prepare a selection of its signature cocktails—from Brandy Milk Punch and Creole Bloody Marys to Blueberry Lemon Drop Martinis and Maple Old Fashioneds, as well as the famous flambeed dessert, Bananas Foster. Available to add to your curbside pickup or delivery orders, the kits come complete with instructions and all the ingredients you need to prepare each recipe (the Bananas Foster kit even includes a lighter). The fine dining staple is also able to offer its wine cellar to “To Geaux” customers; and the team has now created and launched a dedicated wine cellar website detailing the more than 2000 selections in its wine portfolio, including rare and unique finds at discounted prices. Orders available for pick up daily 3 to 7 p.m. with 24-hour notice.
Kata Robata, 3600 Kirby, made a Mother’s Day handroll kit that was so popular, it’s adding the DIY handrolls to the menu. The kit serves two and includes two cups of miso soup, sheets of nori, fresh fish, rice, julienned veggies and toppings for $55. Place your order online for curbside pickup or call 713-526-8858 for delivery ($125 minimum) within a 5-mile radius.
Thanks to its overwhelming popularity, Alex Au-Yeung will continue offering his award-winning Malaysian curry crawfish through this weekend at Phat Eatery, 832-913-6382. Get it for $4.99 per pound on Thursday, May 14 after 4 p.m. and $5.99 per pound Friday through Sunday all day (limited supply, preorders welcome). Also available is Phat Eatery’s creamy, dreamy ice creams by the pint, with flavors including Pandan Coconut with Curry Sprinkle and Creamy Durian.