Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Bruce Molzan Returns and Blacksmith Breaks Ground

Hang on to your lobster bibs; it's been a busy week for openings, closings and chef shuffles in Houston, starting with news that everyone's favorite (fill in the blank with the adjective of your choice, Mad Libs-style) chef is back: Bruce Molzan.

After being closed for a year, The Brownstone is reopening after an extended remodel and rebranding. The complex at 2736 Virginia has three new spaces it's ready to show off after Thanksgiving: 1919 Wine & Mixology downstairs, The Oak Bar & Nightclub upstairs and Corner Table by Chef Bruce Molzan. The Oak Bar will feature live entertainment while Molzan himself will be cooking out of a brand-new kitchen downstairs.

Maybe this time around, Molzan's staff won't walk out on him. (Too soon?)

And in other chef news, Adair Kitchen has announced that Jimmy Mitchell -- formerly the executive chef for such well-known restaurants as The Rainbow Lodge, Vallone's Steak House and Gaido's -- has joined the team. Mitchell, who holds a certification in Master Gardening from Texas A&M University, has worked with owners Nick Adair and Katie Barnhart to create a seasonal dinner menu to go along with the simple, straightforward breakfast and lunches that Adair Kitchen already serves. Look for dishes such as green chicken enchiladas, lean turkey meatloaf and grilled salmon with pesto.

With news that the strip center which houses Vietnamese diner Thien An has been sold and will soon be demolished to make way for the long-awaited Midtown superblock, fans were left wondering what would happen to their favorite spot for a banh mi and pho fix. Eater Houston reports that Thien An plans to reopen in six months at a new location at 2611 San Jacinto, just a block away from another Viet favorite: Kim Tai.

In other Midtown news, Aperture Coffee & Wine Bar -- which closed last August has yet to reopen in its new (and as yet unannounced) location. We're still waiting for their eventual return. What's going on, guys? Come back to us!

In happier news, things are swimming along nicely for Montrose coffee house Blacksmith, where construction has finally begun on the old building that housed everyone's favorite gay biker bar, Mary's. Photos have been posted to Blacksmith's Facebook page all week, showing off the same kind of serious remodeling that was required for neighbor (and fellow former gay bar) Chances when The Hay Merchant and Underbelly were getting ready to move in.

Meanwhile in Montrose, another old building didn't have such a lucky fate. The fourplex at 2310 Converse which was set to house The Muffin Man restaurant and, er, bakery two years ago -- you may remember its billboard out front announcing that "a four inch muffin is better than an eight inch cock" -- was approved for demolition, according to Swamplot. I guess we'll never know the gustatory joys of those four-inch muffins.

Also closed for good: Aura Restaurant in Missouri City. The French restaurant was regarded as one of the best in the city -- even though it was nowhere near Houston proper. But good news (awesome news for Sugar Land Town Square, especially) comes from our friends at B4-U-Eat, who reported in this week's newsletter:

Frederic and Michelle Perrier closed AURA Restaurant, 3340 FM 1092 in Missouri City, Saturday and it will re-open the end of this month as AURA Brasserie Moderne in Sugar Land Town Square. Meanwhile, on Monday, they opened Coco Pazzo by Aura where AURA was. Coco Pazzo serves Mediterranean Italian Cuisine with still an 'inch of French'.

Further up Highway 59, a reader reports on a new sushi restaurant that's opened at 3800 Southwest Freeway, Michiru Sushi:

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by this place at 3800 Southwest Frwy. Stopped in last night, found some impressive stuff: king salmon from New Zealand, ocean trout, Japanese snapper, aji. Sushiman Oichi-san is from China but trained for 10 years in Japan and 17 years in New York City.

Our tipster also reports that Oichi-san is licensed to prepare and serve blowfish (a.k.a. fugu, a.k.a. a helluva way to die in case that whole eating a poisonous fish thing doesn't quite work out the way you expected). The same owners also run the popular Tyku Sushi in Webster.

Last but not least, Whole Foods has announced that it's opening a brand-new store in Katy -- the same week as Rice Epicurean Markets announced the closure of four stores throughout Houston. The new 34,000 square-foot Katy grocer plans to open on January 30 at 7:30 a.m. and will be located at 6601 South Fry Road. The new Whole Foods will add 100 jobs to the area, just in time for all of us to start paying off our Christmas credit card bills.

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Katharine Shilcutt