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Openings and Closings: Flower Child Heights, Fiori Montrose

Chef Marcos Salazar is creating regional Italian dishes at Fiori.EXPAND
Chef Marcos Salazar is creating regional Italian dishes at Fiori.
Photo by Elizabeth Jones McChesney

Fiori, 4315 Montrose, opened July 10. It takes over the spot of Montrose and Richmond that has previously housed French boutique restaurants like La Villa and Brasserie Max and Julie. The Italian restaurant offers beautifully done dishes from executive chef Marcos Salazar. The space also features a florist, Flowers and Flourless, so guests can enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers as they dine and perhaps take home an arrangement or bouquet. There is al fresco dining during reasonably cool Houston evenings for guests to enjoy the European flavor of wicker bistro sets and cafe ambiance.

The charcuterie board at Fiori is served with housemade focaccia.
The charcuterie board at Fiori is served with housemade focaccia.
Photo by Elizabeth Jones McChesney

The menu offers Italian classics like Eggplant Parmigiana, Spaghetti Pomodoro and Saltimbocca alla Romana with elegant presentations. Guests can begin the meal with antipasti such as Sorrentine mussels or try the Burrata Fritta, breaded and fried burrata cheese in a bath of tomato and basil. For dessert, there's a variety of gelato, panna cotta and a caramel tart. For now, the restaurant is allowing BYOB with a $10 corkage fee.

Fiori also has special events like floral design and wine tastings. Two upcoming wine events are scheduled for August 19 and September 2 for $35 each. Check its website for more details.

Flower Child can provide healthy eating for quarantining.EXPAND
Flower Child can provide healthy eating for quarantining.
Photo by Heather Kinkel

Flower Child, 1533 N. Shepherd, will open August 4. The restaurant from Fox Restaurant Concepts was originally slated for March 24, as we reported here in the Houston Press. However, the pandemic caused a minor delay in opening. This is the third Houston area location for the healthy, wholesome eating concept. The other two Flower Child restaurants are in The Woodlands and Uptown Park near the Galleria.

Flower Child offers tasty and healthy bowls.EXPAND
Flower Child offers tasty and healthy bowls.
Photo by Heather Kinkel

The restaurant offers a variety of options to build your own plate or bowl with nutritious grains, greens and vegetables. Guests can also add proteins such as steak, salmon, shrimp and chicken. Flower Child is offering online ordering plus customers can order Build Your Own Bundle packs with protein by the pound or large orders of sides such as Sweet Corn and Quinoa, Charred Asparagus Slaw and Yuzu Brussels Sprouts. There is a Family Pack ($44) that feeds four to six which offers chicken with two large sides and a large chopped vegetable salad. The chicken can be upgraded to steak, salmon or shrimp for an additional eight dollars.

Regular menu items like the signature bowls and wraps, soups and salads can be ordered as well plus some Flower Child locations are offering 50 percent off beer and wine to-go.

The new Common Bond has all the favorites plus cocktails.EXPAND
The new Common Bond has all the favorites plus cocktails.
Photo by Andrew Hemmingway

Common Bond Bistro and Bakery, 1700 City Plaza, opened July 20 at CityPlace in Springwoods Village. This new location is an expansion of the bakery and cafe's concept in that it will have a full bar and lounge meant for happy hour and after hours with a separate bar menu. The breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner experience will still be available with all of the fresh pastries, macarons, desserts and breads that customers love from Common Bond.

The bar menu includes shareables like Nashville Crispy Shrimp, a charcuterie and cheese board and Bacon Sliders plus a variety of flatbreads. There will be classic cocktails as well like Paloma, Vesper, Sazerac, Aperol Spritz and Cosmopolitan. The craft cocktails include drinks such as the Amalfi Coast made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, limoncello, simple syrup, lemon and mint.

Common Bond has locations in the Medical Center, Montrose, and the Heights plus an On-The-Go concept that recently opened at 601 Heights Boulevard in May. There is a Common Bond Bistro and Bakery planned for downtown Houston at 800 Capitol, soon.

Dawn Burrell is striking out on her own.
Dawn Burrell is striking out on her own.
Photo by Amy Scott

Chef Dawn Burrell has left her role as executive chef at Kulture to launch PIVOT, a chef-driven prepared meal service. PIVOT was originally founded by I'll Have What She's Having, a women-led culinary network whose mission highlights the inequities of healthcare for women including reproductive rights, maternal health and breast cancer, primarily focusing on women in the restaurant and hospitality industry who are often without medical and healthcare resources. In the wake of COVID-19, PIVOT helped to give a prepared meal platform to chefs who had been displaced or were suffering from the pandemic's financial hit on the industry. Burrell became the face and culinary director of the project and is now fully taking over operations with her signature Global Comfort style of cooking.

Prior to her stint as executive chef at Kulture for two and a half years, Burrell worked as a sous chef at Japanese hot spots Uchi and Uchiko after having worked with Tom Aikens in London. Her role at Kulture led her to become a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist for 2020 Best Chef: Texas. She is also a former 2000 Olympian who traveled with the USA Field and Track team.

Dawn Burrell's meals are wholesome global comfort food.
Dawn Burrell's meals are wholesome global comfort food.
Photo by Amy Scott

In a press release, the chef said, "It is with a heavy heart and much contemplation that I have made the decision that my time at Kulture has come to an end. The restaurant gave me a platform to create memorable dishes for guests that I will always cherish, and for that I am eternally grateful. Additionally, caring for my mother and stepfather has become a top priority. This new direction will grant me more flexibility to focus on their well-being,
while also tackling new culinary goals and opportunities.” One of those opportunities may include a future restaurant concept.

PIVOT will offer prepared meals and meal kits of wholesome foods plus customary culinary and shopping lists. Burrell will also provide explanations of the dishes, their significance and inspiration. Customers will see offerings like Fonio Tabbouleh, made with fonio, a West African gluten-free grain. There are also dishes like Tansy's Salmon Croquettes, Smoked Brisket with Herb Chutney, and Warm Pea and Potato Salad in the rotation. To order, go to chefdawnburrell.com.

Acadian Bakery sold some of the best King Cakes in town.
Acadian Bakery sold some of the best King Cakes in town.
Photo by Josephine Ramirez

Acadian Bakery, 604 W. Alabama, will not reopen, according to Eater Houston. The decades-long  Montrose business was operated for forty years by Sandy Bubbert, a local businesswoman and philanthropist who championed gay rights and women's issues. She made special cakes for notable personages such as the late Governor Ann Richards and First Lady Barbara Bush plus the wedding cake for former Houston Mayor Annise Parker when she wed Kathy Hubbard in 2014. Her wedding cakes were famous as were her King Cakes, of which the bakery made thousands every February for Mardi Gras.

Bubbert sold the business in December of last year, as reported by OutSmart Magazine. Bubbert was 75 years old and decided it was time to sell the business to a younger baker. The new owner announced March 18 that she would be closing the bakery temporarily due to the pandemic. However, it never reopened after the initial announcement. The space is now empty and for lease.

Summertime and Saint Arnold's is a good combination.
Summertime and Saint Arnold's is a good combination.
Photo by Claudia Casbarian

Saint Arnold's Beer Garden and Restaurant, 2000 Lyons, has reopened for dine-in restaurant service after a brief reversion to take-out in compliance with Governor Greg Abbott's executive order, GA-28, which restricted breweries, restaurants and tap rooms from in-house service if alcohol sales exceeded 51 percent. Unfortunately, as the original order stood and was interpreted by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, it counted all alcoholic beverage sales including wholesale, retail and to-go. Now, with the publicity from local media and the efforts of business owners and supporters, the law has been amended to exclude the exterior sales and to only include the on-premise consumption in the gross receipts.

This means Saint Arnold's has reopened the restaurant and beer garden, which has plenty of outside space for social distancing while enjoying a cold brew and some hot food. This has also allowed the company to bring back all 75 team members for employment.

While the amendment helps Saint Arnold's restaurant get back to business, smaller taprooms who cannot meet the current guidelines are still suffering which is why the team at Saint Arnold's asks that concerned citizens  sign the Texas Craft Brewers Guild's petition to allow breweries to deliver and ship craft beer in Texas.

Ryan Stone is creating cocktails to-go at Red Dwarf.
Ryan Stone is creating cocktails to-go at Red Dwarf.
Photo by Corinne Mason

Red Dwarf, 1011 McGowen, opens August 1 for to-go orders only as it waits out the pandemic. Originally slated to open July 1, as we reported here in the Press, the coffee shop/bar/live music venue then planned a July 6 opening. Unfortunately, the rise in COVID-19 cases in Houston and Harris County has led to the decision to forego dining and drinking in-house for the time being. The owners have decided to offer food, cocktails, wine and beer to go instead.

The to-go cocktail pouches include smaller ones of two servings ($18) like the Night and Day, made with cold brew, Fernet, St. Germaine and tonic water or the Keep Your Pimms Hand Strong, made with Pimms, gin, Chareau, simple syrup, ginger beer and citric acid. The cocktail kits for four ($36) include a Hibiscus Negroni and the Spicy Dead Lady, made with Ilegal mezcal, Aperol, Falernum and citric acid.

There are $30 bottles of wine to go along with beers like Saint Arnold's Juicy IPA ($5) or Jolly Pumpkin Alien Church ($13). There are also coffee drinks to go. Alcoholic beverages to-go require a food purchase. Red Dwarf is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. with light bites in the morning like pastries from Cake and Bacon. The full food program begins at noon.

Hando will roll you one.EXPAND
Hando will roll you one.
Photo by Al Torres Photography

Hando, 518 W. 11th, has reopened for dine-in service after closing temporarily due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, as we reported here in the Press.  The restaurant underwent stringent sanitization and is now open for dine-in guests as well as take-out, curbside pick-up and delivery through Postmates, GrubHub and UberEats. The restaurant is cashless so you'll have to hand over a credit or debit card instead.

The hand roll restaurant also has some new cocktails and food items on the menu. There's the Hando Clarified Milk Punch ($10) or the Japanese Highball ($9) made with Toki whiskey and Rambler sparkling water. There are house wines and a variety of sake. Sodas, green tea and Calpico, a non-carbonated Japanese beverage, are also available.

The Handokase are chef's sets of hand rolls in three ($15), four ($20) or five ($25). Guests can also select from the hand roll menu which offers rolls of blue crab, salmon, cucumber, tofu, mushroom and more. There's even the Musubi made with Hando's housemade beef version of SPAM. Rolls range from $4 for vegetarian to $8.50 for rolls with lobster or Bluefin tuna. On the Not Hand Rolls side are snacks such as shishito peppers, miso soup and shiso gyoza.

Central Market, 3815 Westheimer, will celebrate the yearly harvest of Hatch chiles with its 25th Annual Hatch Chile Fest from August 5 to August 25th. In honor of Central Market's 25th Anniversary, the Hatch-iversary will last an additional week compared to its usual run. Central Market will also offer 500 Crayola Kits to celebrate its anniversary. The kits, done in partnership with Crayola, offers a special coloring book and a four pack of Crayola crayons that includes Cemntral Market's own custom crayon, "Foodie Fresh".

The gourmet Hatch delights available include crab cakes, rotisserie chicken, pepper corn bread, chicken and chile tamales and even a pound cake, all flavored with the unique Hatch pepper that connoisseurs await every year.

Houston Restaurant Weeks begins August 1 and runs through September 7. The culinary fundraiser is the largest annual fundraiser for Houston Food Bank, which is the largest food bank in the nation, helping to feed the food insecure of Houston, Harris County, Galveston County, Montgomery County and Brazos Valley. The non-profit event began in 2003 when local television and radio host and journalist, Cleverley Stone convinced Houston's restaurants to participate in the fundraiser by creating special prix fixe menus for the public, with a set dollar amount from each menu ordered going to Houston Food Bank. It grew over the years and to date has raised 16.6 millions dollars for Houston Food Bank and its food bank partners.

Unfortunately, Stone passed away this past May of cancer but her daughter Katie Stone has taken over the leadership role to produce the event, honoring her mother's last wishes and keeping her legacy alive. Due to the financial struggles many restaurants are experiencing due to the pandemic, the donation amount per menu has been reduced to one dollar which still helps Houston Food Bank while bringing back customers to the restaurants for dine-in or take-out. The list of participating restaurants and their drool-worthy prix-fixe menus is available at  houstonrestaurantweeks.com.

Peli Peli Chicken is a good introduction to South African food.
Peli Peli Chicken is a good introduction to South African food.
Photo by Raul Casares and Sean Maxwell of WOND3R

Peli Peli South African Kitchen, 1201 Lake Woodlands and 5085 Westheimer, has introduced its first-ever kids menu for Houston Restaurant Weeks. Restaurateur and co-owner Thomas Nguyen, a contributing writer to the Press,  has been innovative and creative with ways to keep afloat during the pandemic, including partnering with local Kroger grocery stores to sell prepared meals from Peli Peli and offering $10 boxed meals for take-out from a restaurant known for its fine-dining quality. Now, despite not normally being regarded as kid-friendly, Nguyen and Chef Ryan Stewart have chosen to create a kid-friendly HRW menu so that youngsters can try the global flavors of the South African restaurant. The three course menu for kids is $13 and begins with Empies, a Portuguese-style empanada, perfect for little hands to hold. Kids can choose one of three entrees like the half-pound Gouda cheeseburger, the Peli Peli Chicken or mac 'n cheese. The prix-fixe kiddie experience is topped off with a Chocolate Lekker Tart served with vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate sauce.

For adults, Peli Peli is offering a $20 three-course lunch menu for HRW that is available for dinner as well. It is also offering a $35 HRW dinner menu which in previous years was set at $45. 

Tony's has a dress code so behave.EXPAND
Tony's has a dress code so behave.
Photo by Todd Parker

Tony's, 3755 Richmond, has been a place to see and be seen for 55 years in Houston and its HRW menus give a sample as to why its food still brings in the socialite crowd and high-flying business makers. The two course lunch menu for Houston Restaurant Weeks is a bargain for those who want to have a special lunch without lightening the wallet too much. The first course options include Wild Mushroom Risotto or Pansoti, a squash-filled pasta dish. The second course features entrees such as Herb-roasted Chicken Salad or Snapper Francese. For an additional $12 supplement, guests can try the famous Wyatt Salad with lobster, crab and shrimp.

The $45 dinner menu offers three course starting with first course choices like Tasmanian Salmon Crudo or Bombolotti Bolognese. There's also a dish of Umbrian Summer Truffles available for an extra $21. Entrees inlcude Shrimp Livornese, Niman Ranch Short Ribs of Beef and Veal Scallopine Antica, There are three dessert option on the prix fixe menu including the Summer Berry Bomb.

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Restaurant Openings Reported July 2020:

Bo-Bobs, 7127 Fannin, opened late May
Daddy's Burgers, 5212 Morningside, opened July 21
Goode Bird, 5015 Kirby, opened July 12
King's Biergarten, 1329 E. Broadway, reopened July 14
The Kitchen at the Dunlavy, 3422 Allen Parkway, reopened July 23
La Michoacana Meat Market, 8200 FM 1464, opened June 12
Lan Hai, 17575 Tomball Parkway, opened May 6
MOD Pizza, 9509 FM 1960 Bypass, opened July 21
The Rustic, 1121 Uptown Park, opened July 8
Saigon Pho, 6938 Wilcrest, opened mid-July
State Fare, 15930 City Walk, opened July 8
Tacos Dona Lena, 8788 Hammerly, opened April 11
The Toasted Yolk, 27008 Highway 290, opened July 20

Restaurant Closings Reported July 2020:

Blackbird Izakaya, 1221 W. 11th, closed late July
Dot Coffee, 12010 Eastex Freeway, closed late July
Fiesta Mart, 4200 San Jacinto, closed July 10
Lockwood Station, 409 Travis, closed mid-July

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