Openings and Closings

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Exiciting news for Francophiles across Houston who miss Philippe Schmit's deft touch at the long-gone Bistro Moderne at the Hotel Derek: Reports from two reliable sources indicate that Schmit's new restaurant is getting closer to opening its doors. If Haven was the most anticipated opening of 2009, Philippe might be the most anticipated for 2010. Philippe promises "an exciting and accessible menu of traditional and eclectic French offerings combined with a stylish lounge and bar."

Our friends at B4-U-Eat reported in their weekly newsletter that Ludovic Poirier, the former director of operations at Bistro Moderne, will once again be joining Chef Schmit at Philippe. Having worked through several other hotel restaurants in town -- *17 at the Alden Hotel and VOICE at the Hotel Icon -- it appears that Poirier is striking into new yet familiar territory with Phillipe.

Jenny Wang of I'm Never Full ran into Chef Schmit at Block 7 Wine Company recently, where he assured her that the restaurant would not only be located inside the Loop (there had been rumors of a more suburban location) but that they were aiming for an August opening. With those tidbits of information, Houston diners can look forward to a cool restaurant as a reward for making it through a long, hot summer.

A little pocket of West Alabama will be sadder in February after losing The Wine Bucket (2311 W. Alabama) and Ziggy's Bar & Grill (2202 W. Alabama) at the end of this month. The Wine Bucket is closing for good, but fortunately Ziggy's will be reincarnated in a brand-new downtown location, which we reported on a few weeks ago.

Elsewhere, hometown mound boy Brandon Backe has opened his restaurant in Dickinson: Backe's Bullpen (2709 Dickenson Ave.). And because God knows there aren't enough burgers in Houston, there's a brand-new place to eat them: Burger Home (7918 Kirby).

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