Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Cocody Debuts Today, Artisans Opens Next Week

A beautiful roasted duck breast hints at a fabulous menu.
A beautiful roasted duck breast hints at a fabulous menu. Photo by Mickael Zibi

Cocody Restaurant and Bar, 1971 W, Gray, debuts December 1 in the River Oaks Shopping Center. With a dazzling interior and two skilled chefs at the helm, it promises to be a vibrant addition to the Houston dining scene. The duo behind the chef-driven concept, Lionel Debon and David Denis, have designed a state-of-the-art kitchen in which the magic will happen.
click to enlarge
Art Deco meets contemporary design in a enchanting space.
Photo by Mickael Zibi
The design of the 7,000 square-foot interior space was a dual effort between renowned Houston-based Nina Magon Studio and Winn Wittman Architects out of Austin. The Art Deco influences pay tribute to the 1930s era West Gray center while hundreds of crystal lights float above the dining room casting a flattering glow on the guests below. A free-standing metal bar makes a dramatic focus. There's a lounge off the bar and a semi-private Chef's Tasting Room offers views of the kitchen.
click to enlarge
The stunning bar at Cocody provides a glamourous backdrop for cocktails.
Photo by Mickael Zibi
The menu at Cocody is a reflection of the owners of the new dining destination who have backgrounds spanning the globe. Chef Debon has worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe as well as Le Mistral here in Houston. Chef Denis, who created Le Mistral, is well-known for opening other local restaurants including Bistro 555, Rouge Wine Bar and Artisans Cuisine & Savoir Faire. Joining the chefs in the venture are restaurateur Sylvain Denis, brother of Chef Denis, who takes on the role of Operations Manager and sommelier as he has at other Denis-owned endeavors.

Co-owner Edwin Bosso has lived on the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Burkina Faso and Mexico. He earned his bachelor's degree from The Hague Polytechnique in the Netherlands before continuing his graduate degree from Rice University. His wife, Edith Bosso, received her Haute Couture Bachelor from ESMOD, a prestigious and venerable fashion school in Paris, France.
click to enlarge
The Chef's Tasting Room will offer a memorable experience.
Photo by Mickael Zibi
The combined international experiences of the chefs and owners has resulted in a global menu of dishes such as Patagonia Smoked Salmon and Tartare Duo, Table Smoked East Coast Seared Scallops, Texan Blackened Red Snapper, Roasted Moulard Duck Breast and Linz Heritage Center Cut Beef Tenderloin. There's a global wine list to match along with a bar program of craft cocktails.

When it debuts, Cocody will be open for lunch and dinner with a weekend brunch service.
click to enlarge
Artisans has relocated uptown.
Rendering by Gensler
Artisans, 5745 Westheimer, opens December 4 in its new location. Originally located at 3201 Louisiana, the upscale French restaurant was opened by Chef Jacques Fox in 2010. After renting the space in Midtown for over a decade, Fox decided to buy the Galleria-area property that was once the iconic Westheimer location of James Coney Island. Now, it has been transformed into a beautiful dining establishment befitting its classic French cuisine and posh neighborhood.

Fox has an extensive culinary history and an international background. Born in North Africa and raised in France by his Polish grandparents, he developed a love for cooking at a young age. He began his gastronomic education right out of high school with a two-year culinary program at College d' Enseignement Technique followed by years of working in high-end Paris restaurants. That led to global gigs around the world and a number of esteemed culinary titles including being knighted as Chevalier of the Agricole National Order of Merit from the French Republic in January 2020.

He and co-owner Jason Schickedanz have collaborated with Gensler Architecture Services and Texana Builders to create a unique layout with an open kitchen, a porte cachere grande entrance, five private party rooms and an outdoor terrace. The intimate Table du Chef seats 28 guests and there are mezzanine level tables along with fleurs de lis banquettes. There is private parking, valet service and even an electric charging station.

The new Artisans will offer lunch and dinner service plus brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
click to enlarge
The charming building is fronted by an attractive outdoor terrace.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway
1891 American Eatery & Bar, 702 E. 11th, opened November 27 in the Heights. The neighborhood bar and dining spot comes from operating partners Jason Gould, Brad Serey and Garza Management Group.

According to Gould, the name 1891 comes from the year the Heights community was founded and he wants the whole community to stop by whether it be families with children, couples on a date or friends out on the town. He said in a press release, "The building itself has been a mainstay in the neighborhood and we wanted to breathe life into it with an everyday, neighborhood bar and restaurant for the Heights community to enjoy."
click to enlarge
Bar snacks and cocktails make for a fun outing in the Heights.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway
The Australian-born Gould has drawn from his worldly adventures as a chef at the Michelin-starred Mirabelle in London to his local experiences as co-owner of the now-shuttered Gravitas and his most recent stint as executive chef for Common Bond to create a Houston-friendly menu. There are snacks like Crab Fritters, Korean Fried Cauliflower and Soft Pretzels along with sandwiches, wraps and smash burgers. For entrees, Gould has decadent dishes such as Confit Duck Legs, Pastrami Braised Short Ribs and Pan Seared Gulf Fish with walnut pesto.
click to enlarge
The interior at 1891 is bright and welcoming.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway
For beverages, there are 8 taps of local beers, an approachable wine list and craft cocktails like the Pomegranate Mule and the Fall Fashioned made with autumnally-inspired ingredients.

click to enlarge
This was not a good sign.
Photo by Allen Rhoden
The Rusty Buckle BBQ Company, 22664 Community, was damaged badly in a fire on Thanksgiving Day. Though the Porter Fire Department was able to save the ordering area and dining room, the back side side of the structure and the smokehouse were heavily damaged.

Owner Allen Rhoden told the Houston Press in a phone interview that after cooking the Thanksgiving orders of turkey breasts and sides in the early morning for customers to pick up and oddly enough, extras for the local fire department,  he set out to deliver a Thanksgiving spread to a friend of his in the afternoon. His friend invited him to dine with him and, according to Rhoden, his friend telling him "one more story" turned out to be a blessing. When he left his friend's house, Rhoden received a phone call from the restaurant's manager saying that the patrons in the bar near the barbecue restaurant told her there was a fire at the restaurant. Rhoden said he wasn't too sure about the accuracy of the statement because, "these are patrons at a bar on Thanksgiving."

Then Rhoden saw the giant plume of smoke from several miles away. The police and fire department were on scene and the metal pit shack was severely damaged, with the fire spreading toward the back of the building that houses the dining room, ordering area and his parents' insurance office. Because of the electrical wiring melting, it was necessary to spray water into the structure to contain the fire.

Rhoden believes his friend convincing him to stay a little longer may have saved his life because of the enormity of the blast. He's thankful no one was hurt, including the two stray felines, Guard Cat and Shmudge, who have become mascots for the barbecue joint.
click to enlarge
Let's hope that the Rusty Buckle gets back to serving this soon.
Photo by Allen Rhoden
Rhoden, a real estate broker, and his wife, a teacher, opened the Rusty Buckle in October 2018 in New Caney after doing some catering jobs and successful cookoffs. Currently, he is working with adjustors to figure out the scope of the damage. Though his business has dealt with flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda, the COVID pandemic and burst pipes from the 2021 Winter Storm Uri freeze, he is hopeful that the business will return bigger and better than before with an expanded menu and longer hours.

In the interim, Rhoden hopes to have a set up for filling Christmas orders during the holidays while also working on getting a food truck to serve his much-loved barbecue to the community while the brick and mortar restaurant  situation is worked out.

Rhoden said he is touched and overwhelmed by the support of customers and the community. As for going forward he told the Press, "I just have to take one bite at a time out of the elephant."
The Hickory Burger is made with a tower of onion rings.
Photo by Keni Parks
Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux, 10001 Spencer Highway, will have a grand opening December 4 in La Porte. There will be a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. with a donation being presented to the City of La Porte Police Department's Blue Santa Program. The first 100 guests in line will have the opportunity to win free Walk-On's for a year.

The sports bar and restaurant was founded in 2003 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by Brandon Landry and Jack Warner with famed New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees joining the backing team in 2015. With an extensive menu and a family-friendly atmosphere, it offers a sports-themed good time and a menu with a Cajun twist.

Some of the highlights include chicken and sausage gumbo, crawfish etouffee and Voodoo Shrimp and Grits. There are starters like Boom Boom Shrimp, Boudin Balls and Fried alligator plus some impressive entree salads. There are po'boys, burgers and sandwiches plus a selection of more elegant fare like Ragin' Redfish, Sweet Chili Salmon, Cajun Ribeye and Tuscan Chicken.

There's also a wide variety of beers, craft cocktails and wine.
click to enlarge
If you love someone, send them cookies.
Photo by Tiff's Treats
Tiff's Treats, 12333 Southwest Freeway, is having its grand opening December 2 from 9 a.m. to noon, but you might want to get there by 8:45 a.m. to be eligible for one of three prizes. In addition to giveaways and $5 dozens, the first 100 people in line will receive a $50 gift card.

The new Stafford location is the first for the area for the Texas-founded cookie company which offers pick-up and delivery of its warm cookies and brownies. Customers can also stop by the store front for ice cream cookie sandwiches.
click to enlarge
Pichurro's opens in an area that could use some new eateries.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Pichurro's Mexican Grill, 12215 Grant, opened in Cypress November 15. It's the second location for the restaurant which has another on Kuykendahl in Spring. With a colorful interior and playful portraits on the wall, it offers a fun space for enjoying fajitas, nachos, enchiladas or one of its many dinner plates. There are several sandwiches on the menu including torta and a variety of grilled dishes and seafood such as mojarra frita, ceviche and shrimp poblano.

There's an extensive list of Mexican beers as well as domestic brews plus margaritas and wine.

Golden Chick, 6690 W. Airport Boulevard, opened November 20. It's the 13th Houston area location for the fast dining chicken chain. The franchisees for the newest restaurant are Salim and Eliyan Muman, owners of Universal Food Corp LLC which also operates the Golden Chick on N. Houston Rosslyn. The Mumans plan to open two more locations later this year.

Yoyo's Hot Dog, 401 Franklin, opened softly at The Post November 29, according to the Houston Chronicle. The hot dog stand has operated in various places across Houston, earning long lines of weenie lovers especially after a night of alcoholic indulgence.

For the past couple of months, its Facebook page has occasionally included posts about its temporary closure due to some "issues" which co-owner Kevin Dang told the Chronicle was because of a family emergency as well as chain supply issues. A November 2 post hinted at the upcoming new spot with "Stay with us and get ready for a tastier experience coming soon."

Cooking Girl, 550 Heights Boulevard, was announced as a tenant in October 2023 by Wellspring Commercial Real Estate via Instagram according to a reader's tip. The Sichuan restaurant will take over the former home of Lagniappe which closed this past June. The upcoming location already has a Google listing and we have reached out for a projected opening date.

Restaurants Reported Open for November 2023:

Auden, 3737 Cogdell, opened October 27
Coffee Fellows, 3329 Grand Parkway, opened November 1
Comalito, 2520 Airline, opened November 17
The Decoy, 1222 Witte, opened November 16
DR Delicacy, 1291 N. Post Oak, opened November 9
El Bolillo, 6766 S. Texas 6, opened late November
The Fancy, 1002 Seawall Boulevard, opened November 14
Flower & Cream, 3515 W. Dallas, opened November 11
Golden Chick, 8206 Garth, opened November 7
Junction Beer Garden, 8200 Washington, opened November 14
Katami, 2701 W. Dallas, opened November 7
Maven Coffee + Cocktails, 1510 Polk (Toyota Center) opened October 29
Mi Cocina, 4410 Westheimer, opened November 29
Off the Record, 416 Main, opened November 2
Underbelly Burger, 1222 Witte, opened November 18

Restaurants Reported Closed for November 2023:

Albi Houston, 1947 W. Gray, closed temporarily late November
La Griglia, 2002 W. Gray, closed November 4 for relocation
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.