Life has changed for this food writer. As a brand-new mom, poppin’ bottles has taken on a slightly different meaning. But while I find myself seeking out diaper changing tables for the first time ever, I’m still on the hunt for all the awesome happy hours, exciting menus and H-town icons, both new and old. Only now, I’m bringing my baby, Quinn, along with me. This “Whining and Dining” series looks at dining out with a baby in the city (more specifically, In the Loop, because Quinn doesn’t like to travel too far from home just yet).
Who said people with babies can’t do date night at one of Houston’s hottest restaurants? Not Squable, because it turns out, Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu’s neighborhood hotspot is plenty welcoming to families. The restaurant took over the former Southern Goods space at the end of April, and it’s been hopping ever since.
As Quinn is a bit more serious about bedtime in her eighth month of life, my husband and I made our reservations for 5 p.m. (about half the tables are left open for walk-ins, but I wanted to be sure). Happy hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m. with half-off all beverages on the menu, so it turns out this was the perfect timing. Once seated in our booth (perfectly snug for Quinn’s car seat), we picked a bottle of Cabernet Franc, cheered on by our server as he confirmed the medium-bodied red would pair well with a variety of foodstuffs.
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and there were other families in the dining room that early evening, too. Another youngin’ in a high-chair, and one brave family dining with four, impressively behaved kids of varying ages.
Turns out Quinn wasn’t going to be the only baby at our table that night, as soon after the wine was popped, our Dutch baby pancake — a pillowy number complete with burrata, aged ham and fig jam — made its way in front of us. Industry vets Mark Clayton and Drew Gimma are the über talented chef partners at the helm, and the duo has worked out a compelling European bistro style menu that combines Gimma’s baking skills (he helped open Common Bond) with Clayton’s kitchen expertise at places like Oxheart.
We also ordered toasted potato gnocchetti in white wine sauce with bits of crispy chicken, the French cheeseburger, and arugula and pickled butternut salad for good measure. Plates come out staggered and everything is made to be shared. We dug into the decadent pancake and incredibly silky pasta first, adding bites of the bright salad when we needed a break from the richness.
Quinn also wanted some eats at this point, so she enjoyed a few nibbles of the soft pancake and some of the veggie puree she had sneaked into the restaurant. By the time our cheeseburger arrived, she was out of her car seat enjoying views of the now-packed dining room. My husband and I took turns sipping wine/holding the baby and going beast mode on the transcendent burger, a beautifully done medium rare hunk of beef oozing with butter and a blanket of melted raclette. A staple on the ever-changing menu, it’s finished with sliced cornichon and served atop Gimma’s incredible pain de mie bun alongside deceivingly crisp fries.
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I’d order it all again, but if we don’t get back to Squable before the next menu refresh, I look forward to what’s to come. I’m sure Quinn does, too.
TL;DR: One of Houston’s hottest of-the-moment restaurants, this date night bistro is surprisingly baby and kid-friendly, with high-chairs, happy hour and brunch, to boot.
Kid-Friendly Dining Essentials
Seating: High-chairs available
Bathrooms: Changing tables available
Kids menu: No
Reservations: Yes (with open space for walk-ins as well)
Extras: Patio seating, happy hour, brunch
Squable, 632 West 19th, 832-834-7362