Openings and Closings: Night Heron is Coming, Cafe Azur is Changing

Jacob Pate will head the kitchen at Night Heron.
Jacob Pate will head the kitchen at Night Heron. Photo by Carla Gomez
Night Heron, 1601 W. Main, is expected to open this February, as reported here in the Houston Press. Located in the spot recently vacated by Lowbrow, the newest restaurant from Agricole Hospitality will have a light and airy design inspired by the Gulf Coast. The restaurant will have seating for 60 inside and for 40 on the outdoor patio. Chef/owner Ryan Pera, along with partners Vincent Huynh and Morgan Weber, have recruited Jacob Pate, formerly of Nobie's and Coltivare, two other Agricole Hospitality holdings, as executive chef. Julie Rogers, previously the assistant manager at Coltivare, will serve as General Manager. Rogers, one of only a few certified Cicerones (beer sommeliers) in Houston, is also curating the beer menu. Coltivare's General Manager and sommelier, Jeb Stuart, will be in charge of the wine menu.

Chef Pate's menu will offer a global cuisine with small plates, shareables and entrees. He says that there will definitely be a great burger as well.

Agricole Hospitality's upcoming concepts Indianola, Miss Carousel and Vinny's are slated for April/May 2018 in the EaDo area.

You have until March to get your provencal fix at Cafe Azur. - PHOTO BY MAI PHAM
You have until March to get your provencal fix at Cafe Azur.
Photo by Mai Pham

Cafe Azur,4315 Montrose, is changing ownership, according to CultureMap Houston. Owners Sidney and Maria Degaine have sold the restaurant to a French company which operates 24 restaurants in France and is looking to break into the American market. The new owners took control January 1.

Cafe Azur itself will close in March while it is redesigned as a new restaurant, expected to open a couple of months later.

Chef Sidney and his wife Maria, a native of Brazil, are searching for a new space to open a more chef-driven restaurant with a small tasting menu, though not in the French style. Degaine says " I want to be more modern in my food." Maria Degaine will continue to manage the front of house when they begin their new venture.

River Oaks is getting a new steakhouse.
Artist's rendering courtesy of Perry's Steakhouse and Grille

Perry's Steakhouse and Grille has announced that the newest location at 1997 West Gray will open in late 2018. The River Oaks store will be the first Perry's Steakhouse located within the 610 Loop. The two-story design will occupy the space which formerly housed California Kitchen, and for those who really go way back, Birra Poretti's.

The first floor will contain Perry's signature Bar 79 and outdoor seating, while the second story will be the main dining room, with private dining spaces on both levels. Because of the limited parking available, Perry's will provide complimentary valet service to its patrons.

click to enlarge Rolling with Balls Out Burger. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BALLS OUT BURGER
Rolling with Balls Out Burger.
Photo courtesy of Balls Out Burger
While many food truck owners dream of opening their own brick and mortar operation, Balls Out Burger has taken a reverse approach. Owner Ian Tucker will have a Balls Out Burger on wheels driving around Houston in the next couple of weeks. Loyal customers can find out information about planned stops on its social media. Or just go to Balls Out Burger in the Heights at 1603 N. Durham if your burger jones can't wait.

click to enlarge The Pelican Porch makes for great viewing on Galveston's Strand. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PELICAN JOE'S
The Pelican Porch makes for great viewing on Galveston's Strand.
Photo courtesy of Pelican Joe's

For those looking to go further afield for food and fun, Pelican Joe's, 2217 Strand, opened November 10 in Galveston. With a patio overlooking the Strand, it gives a great view of the hundred-year-old buildings. While the current menu is not very large, the jumbo wings and barbecue are getting positive reviews. The new restaurant is owned by Joe Miller, who previously ran the Better at the Beach food truck.

The Pelican Porch, with its glass conservatory beauty, is available for private gatherings, parties and table service.

Parmesan-dusted Chilean seabass at Blue Onyx Bistro. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EPICUREAN PUBLICIST.
Parmesan-dusted Chilean seabass at Blue Onyx Bistro.
Photo courtesy of The Epicurean Publicist.

Blue Onyx Bistro, 4720 Richmond, is expected to open February 2018. Owner and executive chef, David Chang, migrated to the United States from Taiwan while in his 20s. After working in a number of Chinese and Japanese restaurants around the United States and a stint at a French bistro, he owned his own modern Chinese restaurants before settling in Houston and opening Redfish Grill in Cypress. The French influence on his Asian cuisine has kept people on the northside happy and now that happiness is coming to the Galleria area. The new restaurant is named for the blue onyx stone which is supposed to represent strength and happiness while balancing the mind and body. Unpolished blue onyx stone has been incorporated into the restaurant's design to add to the effect.

Signature dishes to look for are the 35-day dry-aged ribeye steak and the Ocean Smokehouse- fresh snapper topped with scallops and shrimp in a buerre blanc sauce. It is served covered with a dome that keeps the cedar smoke inside until the dome is removed by the server, leaving the guest to take in the aroma. It's all about presentation, baby.

Blue Nile, 3030 Audley, will open January 13, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. The Ethiopian restaurant's first location opened in 1994 at 9400 Richmond. The second location will have the same menu. For newbies to Ethiopian cuisine, there are combination platters for sampling, including all vegetarian options. For a unique experience, try the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Or you sip an Ethiopian beer with your banatu (beef cubes in berbere sauce).

Slowly but surely, Kingwood businesses are coming back after Hurricane Harvey and folks in the northeast suburb are thrilled to finally have their H-E-B grocery store reopen January 19, as reported by Kingwood.com. The grand reopening will begin at 6 a.m. The fuel station reopened January 8.

Aldi, 1387 Kingwood Drive, will open it first Kingwood location on February 1, as reported by the Chronicle. Originally founded in Germany, the grocery chain has been expanding rapidly across the United States with 900 new stores planned in the next five years.

click to enlarge The employees hard at work preparing for the grand opening. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
The employees hard at work preparing for the grand opening.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Pita Pit, 21139 State Highway 249, is having it grand opening January 12 starting at 10 a.m. This location will be larger than the typical 1,500 square foot Pita Pit store. The Tomball restaurant will be 2,100 square feet, including a private room for meetings and gatherings. The private room will have virtual reality software available, a fitting addition considering owner Amy Vanzant Hodge's background in technology at HP across the street.

The healthy pita sandwich chain started in Canada in 1995 and expanded to the U.S. in 1999. Customers can customize their pitas with meat or vegetarian options.

Midnight Rodeo, 5000 Katy Mills Circle, closed in December, following two other Midnight Rodeos which closed recently in Dallas and Amarillo.

click to enlarge Felipe Riccio and David Keck at Goodnight Charlie's. - PHOTO BY RALPH SMITH STUDIOS
Felipe Riccio and David Keck at Goodnight Charlie's.
Photo by Ralph Smith Studios

Felipe Riccio, formerly of Reef and The Pass and Provisions, has returned to Houston, after two years staging in a number of high-profile restaurants in Europe and also at Dan Barber's Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York. Riccio, a native of Mexico, with a Spanish mother and Italian father, spent much of that time at restaurants around Italy and the Basque area. Now in the kitchen at Goodnight Charlie's, 2531 Kuester, the chef/partner, is bringing his experience to the newly opened upscale honky-tonk's menu. You can sample his cuisine at the daily happy hour, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with the $10 special of three tacos and a beer, or you can go all out and feast on the chicken fried steak cemita made with beef from 44 Farms.

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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.