Bludorn, 807 Taft, is slated to open August 21. The new dining destination comes from Chef Aaron Bludorn and wife Victoria Pappas, daughter of one of the Houston restaurateurs behind the prolific Pappas Family Restaurants. Chef Aaron and Victoria met while working at famed Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud's Dinex Group. Bludorn spent five years as Executive Chef at Cafe Boulud. Now, the couple are opening a sophisticated French-inspired New American restaurant in the 1930s warehouse building which once housed Antone's Import Company in the 1960s. The landmark has an enviable spot in the heart of the Allen Parkway Corridor, at the axis of downtown, Midtown, Montrose and River Oaks near Buffalo Bayou Park.
Bludorn's experience with French techniques will showcase the local seafood, produce and meats of the Gulf Coast with dishes like Gulf Cioppino featuring Gulf seafood in a spicy tomato broth, or Quail wrapped in bacon, finished with rosemary and huckleberry. The kitchen will be open concept, taking center stage along with a raw bar. Natural light will flood the main dining area through steel French doors facing Taft. A patio with lush landscaping will be further beautified by an enormous live oak tree.
The restaurant's decor showcases natural wood finishes and a neutral color palette with modern touches, while still respecting the building's period architecture and past history. Guests will enter a foyer with a nine-foot mural by local artist Jonathan Paul Jackson. It depicts the turn-of-the century magnolia groves that once graced the East End.
Chef Bludorn has brought in pastry chef Alejandra Salas who has worked in such lauded restaurants as Bar Boulud, Nobu and Thomas Keller's at The French Laundry. Expect made-to-order beignets, house-made ice creams and seasonal cobblers to be on the sweets menu.
The bar program is a collaboration between Chef Aaron and Victoria with Cafe Boulud's head barman, Darryl Chan and Pappas Bros. Master Sommelier, Jack Mason. Another Cafe Boulud alum, Cherif Mbodji, will lead the management team.
White Elm Cafe Bakery, 14079 Memorial Drive, opened August 11. The collaboration comes from Bread Man Baking owner, Tasos Katsaounis, Chico Ramirez of Dinner Table Investments and Scott and Stacy Simonson. The Simonsons are the owners of the longtime French fine dining restaurant in Humble, Chez Nous.
The bakery program will be led by Katsaounis, known around town as "Bread Man." Croissants, scones, muffins and artisan breads will be available for a sit-down breakfast or coffee break and to-go as well. Katsaounis has also drawn on his Greek heritage to include some items on the menu like spanakopita, tiropita and bougatsa, a layered phyllo pastry with vanilla custard and cinnamon powdered sugar. The Simonsons bring their French flavors to the lunch and dinner menu with offerings such as Charred Octopus, the Bistro Filet and Duck Confit Pizza. There's even a Duck Banh Mi. With their commitment to healthy and natural eating, the Simonsons have also included plenty of vegan and vegetarian options as well. Scott Simonson has curated a wine and beverage menu that leans French, along with beer and cider.
The 3,445 square foot space will offer an outdoor patio and seating for 100 guests. There is a private dining area that can seat 35, plus lounge seating for waiting guests or relaxing patrons. The space was designed by Wyndy Ramirez of Wynne Design Works and is filled with a Mediterranean palette of serene blues and greens plus a showpiece "bread wall" and inviting bakery counter.
Jamie Orlacchio will serve as Executive Pastry Chef. A graduate of the Culinary Institute LeNotre, Orlacchio brings experience from local restaurants such as Brasserie 19, Etoile, Brasserie du Parc and La Table. Richard Brown will take over the role of General Manager, having most recently opened Guard and Grace in downtown Houston as Assistant General Manager. Brown has extensive experience running restaurants, pubs and hotels in the United Kingdom. Jesus Salinas, who has spent the past three and a half years as Executive Sous Chef at Field and Tides, will be the Chef de Cuisine at White Elm.
Kenny and Ziggy's New York Delicatessen Restaurant, 2300 Post Oak, will relocate to 1743 Post Oak Boulevard sometime around mid-2020. Until then, it will continue its regular dine-in and to-go service at the original location so no need to fret. Unfortunately, the Buffalo Speedway location is temporarily closed.
Kenny and Ziggy's has operated for twenty-one years at its current Post Oak location but the shopping center where it is located is slated to be torn down next year. It is Houston after all. K&Z's future home will take over the Luby's Cafeteria space. Luby's is not renewing its lease at the Post Oak location but it is still open and serving its loyal customers until the eventual shutter.
The new location offers the famous deli the opportunity to fit all of its operations under one roof and add some new treats as well. The space will house its full scale bakery, its catering services and its nationwide shipping through New York firm Goldbelly. The new spot will double its restaurant seating with an additional seating for 100 more guests in the main dining area and forty more in the private Schmooze Room. K&Z's is also planning a full service bar with signature cocktails and seating at the bar and outside. A Pastrami and Rye cocktail is not completely out of the question.
Another new addition will be the soda fountain and coffee bar where guests can enjoy milkshakes, ice cream sodas and sundaes with a barista creating coffee drinks. There will also be a full-sized deli counter for take home items. All in all, it promises to be a wonderland of triple decker sandwiches and mile-high desserts.
Street to Kitchen, 6501 Harrisburg, softly opened August 3 and will have its grand opening August 17. The restaurant offers Thai (pronounced "tie" not thigh, Mr. President) street food and fried chicken (including Thai thighs). It comes from Thai native, Chef Benchawan "G" Japthong Painter and husband Graham Painter. The couple moved to Houston five years ago and dreamed of opening their own restaurant. That dream did not include a pandemic but they have ventured forth despite it.
With a cuisine that is "unapologetically Thai," Benchawan is offering traditional dishes like Drunken Noodles, Stir-Fried Thai Basil Beef and Pad Thai. However, chef's Pad Thai is authentic, no chicken allowed. It's either shrimp or vegetarian. However, there are plenty of other chicken options including the Thai fried chicken which comes in choices of wings or two and three piece boxes. The prices are reasonable for the fried chicken boxes, from $6.99 to $8.99. Each comes topped with crispy fried shallots and a side of fragrant, yellow rice. Customers also get a choice of spicy Thai chili cilantro or sweet chili sauce. This writer is more spicy than sweet so I know which I am choosing.
For now, the restaurant is operating as to-go only. Customers can order online at its website for pick-up at the drive-thru. It also offers delivery options. Order early for the Thai fried chicken. It's been selling out daily.
Bistro Provence, 13616 Memorial, will close its doors August 22. But, before you scream Mon Dieu!, there's good news coming from the restaurant's owner, Genevieve Guy. When Bistro Provence shutters, the space will be gutted and completely redone to make way for their new concept, Bistro 555. The new restaurant will feature more of France's regional cuisine, representing Genevieve's life, from her Alsatian upbringing, time in Lyon, meeting her husband from Auvergne and travelling through Provence.
"It's time to refresh," Guy said in a press release. " I want a place to showcase more of France and more of what today's French food is all about." The menu will feature five appetizers, five main courses and five desserts which is represented in its new name. However, the menu will be flexible, based on seasonal and fresh ingredients.
Bistro 555 is expected to open in early September. Through August 22, Bistro Provence will continue its dine-in and to-go services, so patrons have a limited time to enjoy their favorite Provencal dish.
Local Group Brewing, 1504 Chapman, reopened again August 6. The brewpub has gone back and forth between closures and to-go orders only due to the pandemic restrictions based on food and alcohol sales with percentages being interpreted differently by various sources. The new TABC guidelines will allow the taproom to reopen at 50 percent capacity and also its expansive patio with a great view of downtown Houston. There will be table service only and no bar seating. Safety measures include tables set six feet apart, touchless entry and payment systems and hand sanitizer on every table. Staff will wear masks and gloves.
The food menu at Local Group offers fare above some other brew pubs, though many in Houston are now offering spectacularly good nosh. Items include a House-Cured Berkshire Pork Banh Mi, delicious burgers and crispy chicken sandwiches plus starters like the house pretzels and a poutine made with duck confit. There are tasty desserts plus a small kids menu. The patio is kid and dog friendly with a park across the street for relieving energy and other things.
Local Group is also launching three new brews. There's the Cross-Eyed which is a sister-in-brew to Blurry Eyes, its original New England IPA. It has grapefruit, pineapple and herbal notes. In keeping with the refreshing summery fruitiness, there's the Cherry-Lime Athena's Elixir, a second batch of the fruited kettle sour. The Get'n Jiggy is a hazy West Coast pale ale with hoppy fruit character, medium bitterness and a dry aftertaste. For non-fruit types, there are stouts, lagers and a Scottish Ale on tap, too.
Chris Juergen, the brewmaster at Karbach Brewing Co., is planning a brewery and restaurant in his hometown of Tomball, as reported by Community Impact. The Tomball Economic Development Corporation approved an incentive agreement with Juergen's CCJ Collaborations for construction of the brewery and restaurant at TEDC's Business and Technology Park. The facility will include a brewery, restaurant and packaging and distribution space with indoor and outdoor spaces for patrons. The groundbreaking is planned for the fourth quarter of 2020 with the opening expected in the second quarter of 2021.
Juergen brings plenty of experience to the new project. He is a graduate of Texas A & M and has a master's degree in brewing from UC Davis, according to the Houston Chronicle. He has been with Karbach for five years and has also worked as an assistant brewmaster for MillerCoors. Juergen is currently an assistant professor of brewing at A&M.
Royce Chocolate, 9798 Bellaire Boulevard, has begun construction on its chocolate boutique, as reported by Eater Houston. The high-end Japanese chocolatier was founded in 1983 in Sapporo, Japan. Its matcha chocolates, wafers and Potato Chip Chocolates have contributed to its success in expanding to 14 different countries, including U.S. locations in cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas. It's not the first time the upscale chocolate purveyor has brought its wares to Houston. In 2018, it hosted a couple of pop-up events at The Galleria.
Construction is expected to be completed by the end of November. For those wanting a taste of ROYCE now, it has online shopping and shipping with boxes of assortments starting at $25.
Coolgreens will open its first Houston location at the end of 2020. It's part of a franchise agreement between the healthy lifestyle chain and Clay Carson to open 50 locations throughout Texas including Houston, Austin and San Antonio over the next five years with ten new stores in the next eighteen months. Carson has 20 years of wide-ranging experience in the restaurant industry including serving as vice-president of franchise development for Coolgreens in 2017. He has returned to the company as an area representative while opening his own stores and recruiting multi-unit operators who will commit to opening four to six Texas locations.
Coolgreens was founded in 2009 in Oklahoma City and currently operates ten corporate and franchise fast casual restaurants in Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska. It also offers a franchise opportunity with its Coolgreens Market, a smart refrigerator that allows customers to grab healthy meals on the go. The brand is committed to making the communities in which it operates better places to live with healthy, fresh, made to order sandwiches, wraps, salads and bowls, all geared toward a variety of lifestyles and diets.
Bao Shi Yi Bun House, 3819 Kirby, opened July 4. This is the second location for the bao restaurant which serves BBQ pork buns, beef and onion bao, chicken and corn dumplings, pot stickers and noodles. The authentic Chinese breakfast and bun house gets its name from a rough translation for Bun Eleven, referring to its intense eleven-step process which includes careful selection of flour, exact water to flour ratios, careful kneading for the perfect softness and precise traditional shaping.
The company's goal is show Americans that fast food can be more than burgers, pizza and tacos. Its mission is to make Chinese buns a go-to choice for quick, drive-thru food. Bao Shi Yi is one of the only Chinese restaurants in Houston offering drive-thru service. Other quick snacks include popcorn chicken and Chinese donuts.
Happy Daiquri To Go, 14715 TC Jester, opened in late April. We realize that this is not a recent opening but sometimes small businesses get overlooked and in this current climate they need all the help they can get. Plus, who doesn't want a Happy Daiquiri in this heat and humidity? Owner Cleon Bonner is happy to oblige with a variety of frozen alcoholic slushes. Many of the daiquiris are layered with different flavors and the shop offers its signature blends like the Green Berreta, made with octane, liquid marijuana and Long Island. We're not sure what's in octane and liquid marijuana so lightweights might want to stick to Peach Cobbler and Pink Cotton Candy. Bonner is currently working on a new signature drink in honor of KenTheMan, the local Houston female artist behind the hit "He Be Like" who dropped by the shop recently.
Customers can choose to enjoy a daiquiri while perusing the artwork on the walls, much of it for sale, or they can take them to go, including half and full gallons. There's also an array of Jello shots. Frequent visitors might want to invest in the membership mugs. For those looking for a bargain, check out its Facebook page for weekly specials.
Bonner's happy place isn't serving food right now, but he plans on bringing in food trucks in the future. He says, "If you had a long day at work or just want to put a smile on your face, stop by Happy Daiquiri To Go." We're sold.
Twin Crab, 12802 Gulf Freeway, opened July 31. The new Cajun-Asian restaurant serves up a variety of seafood boils and combo baskets all of which can be enjoyed in a kitsch-filled atmosphere complete with ships, pirates and flying fish overhead.
Hyat Cafe, 9099 Westheimer, opened the first week of August. The Middle Eastern restaurant serves kababs, lamb shank, salt-baked chicken, smoothies, Turkish coffee and desserts. There's also hookah with choices such as Alfakher Regular Head ($11.95), Pan Paas ($13.95) and Pineapple Head ($26.95). Refills are $5.95.
Riel, 1927 Fairview, is launching Louie's Sandwiches from its kitchen August 13. Chef Ryan Lachaine is offering "Riel Good Sandwiches" as a lunchtime to go deal. The new cloud kitchen-like concept is named after Louis Riel, the namesake of Lachaine’s nationally-acclaimed Montrose restaurant. It offers a menu of sandwiches, sliders, salads, sides and desserts for takeout only, Monday-Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Curbside pickup orders can be placed through Riel’s website, with delivery available through Riel on DoorDash.
" I have a longstanding obsession with sandwiches, and I’ve always wanted to have a sandwich place, " Lachaine says. " We get to the restaurant every day around 11 a.m. for prep and don’t open until 5 p.m. anyway, and we've had a lot of time on our hands these past few months. We figured this was the perfect time to roll it out."
The sandwiches are made with handmade bread from pastry chef Alyssa Dole of The Kirby Group, including brioche toast, onion buns and hoagies. The logo for the concept was done by Houston artists Donkeeboy and Noke.
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Choices include a B.L.T. with crispy house-cured bacon, an Italian Sub, Pizza Sub, Chicken Parmesan and Fried Fish with dill tartar sauce. The Crispy Pork comes with spicy cabbage slaw and pickles. The Chicken Caprese sounds particularly delicious with pesto chicken, fried mozzarella and honey balsamic. The menu also includes Riel’s Butter Burgers (two for $12), Chopped Cheese sliders and Crawfish Rolls. There are salads and sides including poutine, potato salad, pasta salad, coleslaw and fries. Customers can add on desserts like Riel’s signature Sticky Toffee Pudding or Nanaimo Bars, a Canadian specialty featuring chocolate, coconut custard and almond which Lachaine typically offers at Riel on Canada Day only.
The sandwiches are $12 to $13, except for the Turkey Club, which is $14. Orders of 10 sandwiches or more require a 24 hours advance notice.
Pressed Juicery, 2437 University Boulevard, is offering a special deal for National Soft Serve Ice Cream Day, August 19. For the whole day, in-store and online, the shop will offer 50 percent off its vegan soft serve, Freeze. The creamy treat is made with real fruits, nuts and vegetables and contains no chemicals or stabilizers. For toppings, customers can try fresh blueberries, granola butter or even vegan gummy bears. Regular pricing is $6.50 to $8, depending on size. Use online code SWIRL for the discount. There's no limit, so treat your friends while socially distancing. And grab some fresh pressed juices to keep you healthy and hydrated in the Houston heat.