Is there such a thing as a restaurant location jinx? If you look at what's passed through 3009 Post Oak Boulevard, you might think so. Though Don's, the proto-Landry restaurant, had a long and successful run in the spot, in recent years those calling the address home have barely had time to get the tables arranged before they were forced to shut their doors. The high-toned Lagniappe was one recent 3009 Post Oak failure, and now the down-home Crescent City Cafe has joined the casualty list. A big-portions Cajun food emporium, Crescent City only lasted from early February until the end of last month. According to Mark Hanna of Customer First, a firm that did some PR for Crescent City, the Louisiana-themed establishment wasn't actually losing money when it shut down, but at the same time it wasn't meeting the expectations of Richard Tanenbaum, Crescent City's idea man (as well as being the high-concept guy who created, and then sold off, Atchafalaya and Post Oak Ranch). Customer growth had stalled, and Tanenbaum, who's more an entrepreneur than a restaurateur, decided to cut his losses. He's currently looking for a new tenant to take over the location. Who would want it? Well, hope springs eternal among the cooking set, and some restaurant folks still speculate that, given the right concept, a cafe could succeed there -- though throwing in the services of an exorcist might help.
Location might also have been a problem for Piccola Cucina, the classy little Italian cafe tucked into a corner of Barneys, the classy big clothing store. This symbiosis of food and fashion chugged along comfortably until the owners of Piccola Cucina and Barneys had a falling out. Or at least that's how the gossip out of New York, where both companies are based, has it. Whatever the truth or falsity of the rumors, the Galleria property where Piccola Cuccina was housed as part of Barneys' space no longer houses Piccola Cuccina.
Recent days have brought happier news for Bill Sadler of River Cafe and Cafe Noche fame. His latest venture, the Moose Cafe, was just named to Esquire magazine's list of best new restaurants nationwide. Esquire critic John Mariani was particularly impressed with the Moose's wood smokers, one whiff of which, he wrote, "will put you in mind of a log cabin in some piny woods." The accolade comes just as the Moose Cafe introduces a new executive chef, Valerie Roviralt, who, it should be noted, loves to hunt and fish, and plans to add more wild game to that woods-friendly menu.
-- Joanne Harrison