Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Common Bond Brasserie Downtown, Original ChopShop Uptown

Common Bond's Seafood Bouillabaisse is on the new dinner menu and it's a beauty.
Common Bond's Seafood Bouillabaisse is on the new dinner menu and it's a beauty. Photo by Andrew Hemmingway

Common Bond Brasserie & Bakery, 800 Capitol, opened September 28 for breakfast and lunch and began its dinner service October 5. This is the flagship location for Common Bond's new concept which combines its popular bakery with a more sophisticated full-service dining restaurant that leans decidedly French with Coq au Vin and Steak Frites but with some Southern twang including the Texas Club, Shrimp and Grits and The nashville Hot Chciken. Sandwich.

The bakery, with its counter and coffee bar, is adjacent to the brasserie, sharing a 5,000 square-foot space and a expansive outdoor patio. The colorful and vibrant space was designed by Lisa Pope Westerman and Brinn Miracle of LUCID Collective. Forney Construction did the build out.
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Loyal patrons can take advantage of Common Bond's pastries as well as its new brasserie menu.
Photo by Andrew Hemmingway
Jason Gould, Common Bond's executive savory chef, created the menu and guests can expected to be wowed by courses like the abundant Seafood Towers, Smoked Duck Rillettes and Herb Crusted Seared Tuna.  On the sweet side, pastry chef David Berg offers up traditional French treats like Creme Brulee, Apple Galette and Chocolate Gateau (cake, y'all).
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Common Bond Brasserie& Bakery is located above Understory food hall downtown.
Photo by Andrew Hemmingway
The new downtown venture for Common Bond has been much-anticipated and CEO George Joseph says it was worth the wait." We are thrilled to open our first and only full-service concept and begin connecting with the residents, tourists and businesses in Downtown Houston. We hope that it becomes a gathering place for the residents and theatregoers and commuters alike."

Unfortunately for those of us who like to venture downtown on the weekends, Common Bond Brasserie is only open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast is served on the bakery side from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. while its signature Bistro lunches are served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Brasserie side. Dinner follows with dishes like Seafood Bouillabaisse and Sous Vide Filet Mignon. There is also a happy hour menu with shareable items like Beef Sliders, Nashville Crispy Shrimp and Cheddar and Green Onion Biscuits.

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Customers at Original ChopShop can get fresh air along with their fresh meals.
Photo by OriginalChopShop

Original ChopShop, 5018 San Felipe, will debut its first Houston store October 15. It will be the eighth location for the brand in Texas, which has 16 restaurants systemwide. A second Houston shop will open in River Oaks later this year. It was founded in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona in 2013.

The restaurant serves its "Just Feel Good Food" like protein bowls, salads, sandwiches, juices, protein shakes and breakfast in a warm, welcoming environment. The meals are chopped in-shop from fresh fruits and vegetables daily and many of the options are customizable. It caters to different nutritional needs and diets with a variety of vegan and vegetarian choices plus items that are free of gluten, soy, lactose, and dairy.
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We feel healthier just looking at the bowl.
Photo by Original ChopShop
For its October 15 grand opening, the shop will give the first 50 guests in line that spend upwards of $15 a $50 Original ChopShop gift certificate. The shop will open at 7 a.m. And guests who make a purchase from October 15 though October 17 will receive a $10 off $20 purchase certificate to be used on a future order. The company will also give ten percent of grand opening day net sales to Brighter Bites, the local non-profit which strives to create healthier communities through accessible fresh and nutritious food.
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Seafood Gumbo is delicious anytime of the year but cooler temps make it even better.
Photo by Becca Wright
Orleans Seafood Kitchen, 6230 FM 1463 will open in the spring of 2022. The new spot in Fulshear is the second location of the Cajun seafood brand from owners Chance Comstock and Marcus Payavla. The first location opened in Katy in 2008. The business duo met in 1993 while working at a Houston restaurant. Fifteen years later, after immersing themselves in the restaurant trade, their dream of owning a Cajun restaurant came true. The new Fulshear location will continue that dream.
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Fronted by a covered patio, the new location will be family-friendly.
Photo by ARC Renderings 3D
It will offer the same menu items with customer favorites like Seafood Gumbo, Etouffee, Po-Boys and Char-Grilled Oysters. It also offers boiled crawfish when in season. Comstock and Payavla have created these Cajun dishes from the recipes of their own families, some of which have been passed down from Payavla's great-grandmother.

The new location will expand its bar offerings with the demographic of the local neighborhood in mind with craft beers and a robust selection of spirits. The Orleans' frozen drinks, a favorite of customers year-round, but especially during the summer, will be on the menu as well.
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Fried seafood is a Cajun specialty.
Photo by Becca Wright
The layout of the 5,418 square-foot space is being designed by Houston-based Batsche Design and designer Dawn Arcieri who are working with Comstock and Payavla to create a family-friendly restaurant that also offers plenty of televisions for sports-watching and a comfortable spot to hang out with friends. There is a 1,385 square-foot patio as well.
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Pepperoni pizza and beer are a match made in heaven.
Photo by Lauren Huffine/SPB Hospitality

Old Chicago Pizza and Tapoom, 24515 Katy Freeway, celebrated its grand reopening October 11. The restaurant, with its motto "Where Pizza and Beer are Best Friends" closed in March 2020 during the height of the pandemic. The Old Chicago brand was bought out of bankruptcy, along with Logan's Roadhouse, in spring 2020 by SPB Hospitality, which moved its headquarters to Houston from Nashville this past summer. Bringing in CEO Jim Mazany, the company has big plans for growth and recently debuted its makeover for Logan's Roadhouse at the 12950 Northwest Freeway location in Houston.

Mazany was on hand for the grand opening of the 5,000 square-foot restaurant, along with the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce and other officials to welcome local residents back. It was a busy affair as a crowd of people waited in line, hoping to be among the first 100 to win "Free Pizza for a Year."
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Enjoying The Farmers Daughter won't get you shot at Old Chicago.
Photo by Lauren Huffine/SPB Hospitality
As its name implies, it serves Chicago-style pizza plus its Insanity Pizzas, a signature rectangular pie in versions like The Pepperoni or The Farmers Daughter, topped with fresh mozzarella, blistered tomatoes, pesto, brick cheese, baby arugula and a drizzle of balsamic. Guests can also be adventurous and go with the Thai Pie with a sweet chili base or try a carnivore's dream, the Meat Me with Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, andouille and pepperoni with a little bit of green from the loves and basil.

The restaurant also offers a couple of pasta dishes plus the Samuel Adams Battered Fish and Chips. For starters, there are wings, Roasted Cauliflower and Italian Nachos. The Sicilian Pepperoni Rolls and Calzones are favorites and there is also a kids menu.

On the beer side, the restaurant serves brews from coast to coast across America and it offers its World Beer Tour for die-hard beer fans. Old Chicago was on the forefront of the craft brewery movement and began its WBT in 1976. Guests who participate will receive certain reward points. There is also a Mini Tour, too.
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Prey offers global flavors and a posh atmosphere.
Photo by J' Mari Wyatt

Prey Acadian Cuisine and Social Dining,  1700 Post Oak, will softly open October 15 with a grand opening planned for October 29. Headed by executive chef and owner Justin "Deon" Kent, the Acadian-inspired restaurant will offer more than just delicious food; it will also be a unique dining experience with multi-cultural flavors and a warm atmosphere conducive to socializing.

The 30 year-old chef moved to Houston from Baton Rouge with his family shortly after Hurricane Katrina wrecked much of the Gulf Coast. The family started its first business in 2018 which led to a brick and mortar location of Swamp Chicken in Richmond. His love of cooking eventually led Chef Deon, as he is better known, to launch his own restaurant which offers international flavors with Cajun flavors being a major influence. Kent said in a press release, "The increased diversification of the Houston local economy makes it a an ideal place for a restaurant like this with its stable market and environment. Opening up Prey at this time of year feels great as I have always fancied opening a multi-cultural restaurant with a fine array of foods."

That fine array of food includes starters like Stuffed Shrimp with lump crab and Crispy Cajun Rolls made with spinach, crawfish and crab. Side dishes include Sweet Yams, Corn Brulee and a Macaroni and Cheese made with angel hair pasta, interestingly. Dinner entrees like Lamb Chops and Oxtail Surf and Turf pair Cajun flavors with fine dining sensibilities while the Suya Ceviche goes more global with an African-spiced filet mignon and lump crab served over a plantain puree. It can also be ordered with chicken breast instead of the filet.

For the grand opening, which begins at 5 p.m., guests will be able to enjoy the full bar, along with happy hour, live music and poetry along with seafood and quality cuts of meat.
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Sekai Night and Day offers a galactic experience.
Rendering by Sekai Night and Day
Sekai Night and Day, 1505 Saint Emanuel, will make its spectacular debut October 29, just ahead of Halloween festivities in Houston. The new luxury nightclub comes from Sekai Hospitality and will be the largest of its kind in Houston at 26,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, including a 1,000 square-foot resort pool and two floors of cabanas.

With cutting edge and immersive technologies, it will provide a festival-like atmosphere with advanced lighting, video and audio elements, ensuring a unique and memorable experience. Sekai Hospitality has partnered with Audiotek, which specializes in designing high-end systems. The Ireland-based company's previous clients include Pacha Ibiza, OMNIA Dayclub in Bali and Wet Republic. French manufacturer L-Acoustics also played a role in the nightclub's sound system.
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Tropical Art Deco meets Houston 2021 in the pool area.
Rendering by Studio Five
Set in a former warehouse, Sekai Night and Day will bring world class DJs into the completely reimagined space which is meant for dancing and lounging. The Tropical Art Deco inspiration is reflected in the teal, black, white and gold colors. There are also plaster, mirrored and ribbed wall surfaces (for her pleasure).

The glamor begins with the exterior and its specially-designed illumination after dark. The 10,000 square-foot main room will stun patrons as the glow of 200 LED strips and moving light heads play upon the mirrored black walls creating a "galactic tapestry of twinkling stars", according to a press release.

There will be a stadium lounge for 27 VIP tables, a circular dance floor plus a 50-foot- bar wrapped in copper and topped with black marble. Outside, extensive decking surrounds the lush oasis-like pool area. The venue offers space for private events with a dedicated outdoor entry for "special arrivals". There is also a 30-foot patio bar plus  avariety of cabanas that range in size, including one that is handicap accessible.

The Atrium Lounge is a private open-air space with its own full bar and can accommodate up to 100 party goers. There is also a full catering kitchen, a concealed green room and valet-staffed bathrooms.

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Guests can go small or go Kahuna in their bowl choices.
Photo by Aloha Poke Co.
Aloha Poke Co., 29040 Highway 290, opened October 6. This is the 15th location for the poke brand which began as a food stall in a Chicago train station. While seven of its locations are in Illinois, it has expanded to include outposts in Washington D.C., Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. The Cypress store is the first location for Texas and the Greater Houston area.
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Fresh ingredients await customer preferences.
Photo by Aloha Poke Co.
Using Ahi tuna that is long line caught in the Pacific Ocean and sustainably-farmed Atlantic salmon from Chile, the poke shop also offers chicken, shrimp and tofu as proteins with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options as well. For customers with special dietary restrictions, the bowls are customizable and also can be made to accommodate keto, paleo, raw and other regimes.

The customization begins with a choice of Small, Big or Kahuna-sized bowls with a base of white or brown rice, cauliflower rice or mixed greens to start. Customers then choose a protein and various toppings and sauces to create a poke dish to their personal tastes.

Maize, 14795 Memorial, is shooting to open this fall, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. The new Mexican restaurant pairs chef/owner Fabian Saldana with Mark Cox, his former boss at Mark's American Cuisine, and Carmelo Mauro, the restaurateur behind the longtime Houston Italian favorite, Carmelo's. Mauro sold Carmelo's to restaurateur Benjamin Berg in 2017 who later opened B.B. Italia in its place. Berg decided to close B.B. Italia in February of this year in hopes of finding a different space for the concept. Mauro's new venture with Cox, who shuttered his Montrose restaurant Mark's American Cuisine in 2016, is a sort of homecoming as he returns to the space which housed his much venerated Carmelo's for decades.

Besides working at Mark's, Saldana is also a former chef at Hugo Ortega's Xochi. The Maize menu will highlight various regions of Mexico, allowing him to draw upon his own heritage for a personalized showcase of his cuisine.

The 8,000 square-foot space will also have a large patio and five private dining rooms. To pair with the Mexican fare, there will be agave spirits plus a cellar offering 1,000 bottles of wine.

Adriatic Cafe, 27240 Katy Freeway, is slated to open in November, according to a Facebook post from the restaurant. The stand alone restaurant in Katy will be the fourth location for the family-owned business. In the same post, it was reported that the Jersey Village location, 17402 Northwest Freeway, is hoping to reopen in January/February 2022 after suffering a fire that caused extensive damage in August.

Dakar Street Food, 2923 Walnut Bend, opened August 19 and revamped its menu October 10. The restaurant serves Senegalese and Caribbean food like Dakar Oxtails, Jerk Chicken and Dibi Lamb, a Senegalese-style barbecued bone-in lamb dish served with Dakar green chutney. There are also snacks like Fataya, a Senegalese-style empanada with spiced ground beef and daily specials which might include Mafe, a peanut meat stew or Cep Jen, a dish of jollof rice with barracuda in a spicy tomato sauce.

Drinks include Ataya, a Senegalese tea and Cafe Touba, Senegalese coffee. For dessert, there's beignets and thiakri, a millet pudding.

Blue Wave Seafood, 6211 Barker Cypress, opened softly August 25, with a grand opening September 4. The menu includes a selection of fried seafood platters and seafood boils. With the boiled platters, guests can choose from mild, medium or spicy and different flavors including Blue Wave, garlic butter and Cajun. It also offers oysters on the half shell and a variety of fried rice dishes with seafood.

There is also a Vietnamese menu with grilled escargot, steamed clams, scallops, mussels and grilled, fried or steamed squid. For those who dare, there are fried chicken feet.

The restaurant has a full bar, an outdoor patio and a reasonably-priced, though small, selection of beers.

Chicking Out, 23227 Gosling, opened September 23 in Spring. It offers grilled chicken with a choice of three different marinades. Diners can choose whole, half or two-piece chicken options or opt for the family packs. There is also a kids menu with chicken nuggets as well as desserts like carrot cake loaf and brownies.

Besides chicken, the restaurant has burritos made with beans and cheese plus a cheese-stuffed poblano pepper. Side choices include rice, refried beans, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and chips with guacamole or queso.

Interestingly, Chicking Out also sells smoked sea salts.

Verdine, 449 W. 19th, is hosting its Oktoberfest October 15 and October 16. The vegan restaurant has won Best Vegan restaurant for the Houston Press Best of Houston for the past two years. The special Oktoberfest menu is made for vegans and non-vegans alike with a Beer Cheese Dip, made with Saint Arnold beer and served with a Bavarian pretzel  or the Biergarten Plate which includes a Beyond Meat bratwurst. The Verdine Haus Burger is made with a Beyond Meat patty and mushroom beer cheese sauce while an order of the Munich Fries also gets a heaping of beer cheese and vegan bratwurst. Bet you never though vegan bratwurst would be a thing.

There will also be live music and discount beer pairings. 
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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.