Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Mutiny Wine Room Opens Soon, Andes Cafe Closes

Chicken Mousse on Texas Toast cubes marry well with wine.
Chicken Mousse on Texas Toast cubes marry well with wine. Photo by Jenn Duncan

click to enlarge
Chicken Mousse on Texas Toast cubes marry well with wine.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Mutiny Wine Room, 1124 Usener, will open January 18. The Napa Valley-inspired wine tasting venue and restaurant comes from longtime Heights residents, Marke Ellenberger and Emily Trout. Husband Mark hails from California while wife Emily is a native Houstonian. The couple have been involved for years in the wine country scene in California. Their passion for small, boutique wines led them to partner with a winery in Napa and produce their own for their Kagan Cellars which is on its 11th vintage.

They have brought in Chef Ari Weiswasser to create a menu that pairs with the carefully curated wines. Weiswasser made multiple research trips to Houston, consulting with local chefs and industry professionals to get an idea of what fare wine-loving Houstonians would enjoy. His menu includes such dishes as Vietnamese Brushed Gulf Prawns on sugar cane skewers with pineapple-charred shishito vinaigrette and Buttermilk Fried Quail with Vidalia onion fondue and herb salad. Weiswasser is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York and worked for two years at Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Yountville, California. He and his wife Erinn Benziger-Weiswasser now own the acclaimed Glen Ellen Star restaurant in Sonoma across from her family's Benziger Family Winery.

Chef Eduardo Alcayaga will be in charge of carrying out the new menu.

click to enlarge
Owners Mark Ellenberger and Emily Trout are bringing a Napa-inspired wine room to the Heights.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
The purpose-built structure housing the new wine room was designed by Mark Atkins of MASA Studio Architects. There are exposed beams, white-washed tongue and groove ceilings, reclaimed wood fixtures and Texas stone walls, bespeaking a rustic wine-country elegance. The mahogany doors leading to the Tasting Room were salvaged from Emily's father's home which was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.

click to enlarge
Mutiny Wine Room will introduce Houston to some unique vintages.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
The 4,579 square foot space will offer two venues. One will be The Tasting Room with wine stewards ready to take guests through flights of wine. Tasters might choose a flight from a featured boutique winery or an educational flight which will help to expand their knowledge and enhance their palate.

The Farmhouse portion will sell wine by the glass or bottle and offer food pairings. There will be two open air patios. The Heights patio will be dog-friendly whereas the West patio is designed to represent a French clos or walled vineyard.

El Topo, 6119 Edloe, will open its first brick and mortar to the public January 10, according to CultureMap Houston.  The food truck is popular for its tacos such as The Houston Taco made with 44 Farms beef barbacoa and The Austin Taco, a vegan option with vegetables, adobo BBQ sauce and pepitas. It also serves salads, toasts and sandos (sandwiches). Owners and chefs Tony Luhrman and Mike Serva are expanding the menu beyond its breakfast and lunch offerings and will have an innovative dinner menu in the upcoming weeks.

The restaurant has been operating on a trial basis since last week, getting a feel for its new space in the former Pizza Motus spot.

Chef David Guerrero at Andes Cafe.
Photo by Troy Fields
Andes Cafe, 2311 Canal, closed January 5 after six years of bringing Ecuadorian and South American flavors to Houston diners. Chef/owner David Guerrero lost the lease for the restaurant which is being sold, according to Houston Food Finder.

Guerrero has had some mixed success in bringing his creative cuisine to the Houston public, while experiencing some major setbacks health-wise. While working as a personal chef, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 27, as reported here in the Houston Press. He later became executive chef at Samba Grille, which shuttered in 2012. The tumors returned again in 2015, requiring surgery and chemotherapy. During that time, he has managed to operate the homey Andes Cafe successfully with its juice bar and South American fare.

However, the closing of Andes Cafe may lead to a bigger and better venture with a new restaurant, Alma, in a better location with more opportunities for expanding the Latin menu to include Mexican fare, tasting menus, steaks cooked in a wood-fired oven and possibly tiradito, a Peruvian raw fish dish. It was first reported that Guerrero was planning to open Alma in November 2019 at 3974 Westheimer, in the former Drexel House space by the Houston Chronicle. However, it may be on track to open next week, according to CultureMap Houston. We're watching.

click to enlarge
Pluckers delivers consistently good wings.
Photo by Melissa Skorpil

Pluckers Wing Bar, 12469 Southwest Freeway, will open January 27 in Stafford. This makes the 25th location for the Austin-founded sports bar and this year also marks its 25th Anniversary. It has locations throughout Texas, including Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth. It also has two locations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

It's known for its variety of homemade sauces which features 20 different flavors such as Ginger Peach, Sriracha and Spicy Mandarin. There is of course, the usual Buffalo wings as well. Being a sports bar, it also offers munchies like fried pickles and sandwiches like the Buffalo Chicken Breast and the Bypass Burger which is topped with bacon, cheddar, grilled onions and jalapenos.

Pluckers has received many accolades over its 25 years, including ESPN's "Top 5 Sports Bars in North America."

click to enlarge
The trio at Chicken Salad Chick offers variety.
Photo by Parlee Teague Productions
Chicken Salad Chick, 30129 Rock Creek, opens January 21 in Kingwood.  This will be the fifth franchise for Jake Allena and Cody Gielen of Cojak Investments, LLC. This will be the 40th opening for the chicken salad restaurant this year, which was founded in 2008 by Stacy Brown. It was recently acquired by Brentwood Associates, a private equity firm, as reported here in the Press. This is the fourth location for the Houston area.

The fast-casual restaurant serves a variety of chicken salad flavors ranging from Traditional to Fruity and Nutty to Spicy, which includes buffalo and jalapeno flavors. There are pimento cheese offerings, egg salad, sandwiches, salads and daily soups. There is also a kids menu.

click to enlarge
There's pimento cheese at Chicken Salad Chick.
Photo by Addison Folmar for Chicken Salad Chick
For the Kingwood grand opening, January 21, the first 100 guests will get a free large Quick Chick chicken salad for a year. For the very first guest, it will be once a week. For the next 99 guests, it will be once a month. There are other specials for the week including January 23, Guest Appreciation Day, in which every guest will get a free scoop of Classic Carol.

click to enlarge
The interior of Lost & Found is eclectic.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Lost & Found, 160 W. Gray, opened softly December 27. Initially, the restaurant/bar was slated for January 2020, as we reported here in the Press. However, it defeated the odds that most new businesses in Houston face and actually opened earlier than expected. We happened by Lost & Found this past weekend and found it buzzing despite its newness. It's an indoor-outdoor space with a rooftop deck and plenty of different lounge spaces. The patio is dog-friendly and hookah is available.

click to enlarge
Sour Patch isn't only for kids.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
We tried the DKG, a cocktail of Sour Patch Kids-infused vodka, lime and cranberry with a sugared side. There is also the Champagne Showers with Hennessy VS, banana rum, lime and champagne foam, garnished with an orchid flower. For now, General Manager Timothy said the bar and restaurant are slowly rolling out five items a week during the soft opening phase, so there are five signature cocktails and five food items debuting each week. We got to try the crawfish bread and fried cauliflower bites and found them delicious, especially the cauliflower. If these dishes are any indication of what Chef T has in store for the future, guests can expect more than just typical bar food with their playful cocktails.

click to enlarge
Patterson Park will be a haven in the city.
Artist's rendering by Craig Schuster for Patterson Park

Patterson Park
, 2205 Patterson,  is currently raising funds on NextSeed for a large patio bar overlooking White Oak Bayou. The project comes from Lonnie Schiller of Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group and Brendan Murphy. Schiller was a founder of Cafe Annie and The Grove at Discovery Green. Along with Houston-based architect Craig Schuster and designer Candice Schiller, the team is planning an adult tree house/ice house with organic wines on tap, local brews and signature cocktails.

click to enlarge
The interior bar at Patterson Park will be expansive.
Artist's Rendering by Craig Schuster
The design is in keeping with the natural surroundings of the White oak Bayou Trail with 5,000 square feet of outdoor deck plus a 4,000 square foot indoor bar. It will be dog-friendly and convenient for trail walkers and bikers. It will accommodate 350 guests.

There will be a centrally located island bar under skylights, forty television screens and two dedicated food truck docks that will have rotating vendors.

click to enlarge
8th Wonder has a new IPA.
Photo by Morgan Rosenbaum
8th Wonder Brewery, 2202 Dallas, has released its Cloudy 8 Hazy IPA for limited release to 50 Houston area Kroger stores. The new beer is available in six-packs of 12 ounce cans. Jason Sheehy, 8th Wonder's production manager says, " It's a hazy IPA-not quite New England style...not as sweet or boozy, so you can have more than one."

The flavors are of tropical fruit and citrus with an ABV of 6.10 percent and IBU 38.

Sticky’s has gained a devoted following thanks to its its addicting “sticky” sauce.
Photo by Carlos Brandon
Sticky's Chicken, 2313 Edwards, is having its grand opening January 11 beginning at 11 a.m. There will be free T-shirts for the first 50 customers. There will also be a DJ to get the party going.

This is the first brick and mortar spot for the food truck which serves dishes with a proprietary sticky sauce created by the owners' father Ceferino Vivares, who was raised in the Philippines. It opened softly December 13, as we reported here in the Press. During that time, it operated with a limited menu and closed last week to prepare for the grand opening. It will now feature its full menu.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.