Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Haven Raises the Bar

Hang onto your napkins, folks -- it's been a busy week for restaurant news around Houston.

While coffee connoisseurs across the city eagerly await the opening of Blacksmith and Southside Espresso, another new coffee shop is already taking shape in Midtown. Aperture Coffee & Wine Bar took over the old Coffee Groundz location at McGowen and Bagby on May 26. Although the old Coffee Groundz sign is still up for now, Aperture is otherwise fully open as both a coffee shop and wine/beer bar -- as well as a photography gallery component.

Look for more beer and wine from Local Pour, a new upscale pub and eatery, when it opens this fall in River Oaks at 1952 West Gray. Along with drinks, Local Pour plans to offer small plates and classic cocktails and even has a few beer dinners lined up for the future. You'll be able to enjoy all of the booze and food late into the evening, too: Local Pour will be open until 2 a.m. every night of the week.

Wondering what Local Pour is replacing? That would be the much-maligned Sherlock's Baker St. Pub, which closed last year after a shooting and subsequent TABC investigation.

Exciting news from Haven comes courtesy of its sous chef, Jean Philippe Gaston, who tells Eater Houston that the locavore mecca will be installing a raw bar component this fall:

If a culture has a raw preparation, Gaston intends to offer a version of it. "We're going to do raw in all its forms," he says. In addition to traditional fish preparations, Gaston will also prepare crudos, ceviches and even sushi. Even beyond seafood, the concept will also embrace tartares, charcuterie and cheeses.

The raw bar area will replace/supplement the cocktail lounge area of Haven, which is a popular spot for classic cocktails and craft beers with a more low-key vibe. The raw bar won't replace the bar bar entirely, though: The "bartenders [are] getting more opportunity to interact with the kitchen and be more creative," says Gaston.

More cool news comes from national yogurt chain Pinkberry, which is opening two more Houston stores just in time for summer: In addition to its Clear Lake store, Pinkberry will open a location at The Woodlands Mall (near Urban Outfitters) on June 8 and a location at Highland Village in late summer.

Two more locations of another popular chain are headed our way: Raising Cane's is opening its Garden Oaks location at Ella Boulevard and Loop 610 on June 14 and its Pasadena location a week later on June 21.

Out in Katy, the fifth location of local favorite Alicia's Mexican Grille is slated to open on Monday, June 11, with a grand-opening cocktail reception to follow on Saturday, June 23, from 2 to 5 p.m. The new Tex-Mex joint will clock in at a massive 8,800 square feet in its new location at 25725 Katy Freeway, and will serve the same salsas, fajitas and margaritas that made them famous elsewhere in the city.

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Katharine Shilcutt