It's been a busy month for restaurant openings, closings, name changes and remodels. Hang onto your coffee cups -- we've got a lot of restaurant news to get through in one post.
BlackFinn American Grille is close to opening in Midtown, and the North Carolina-based chain is the first I've heard of to use the term "polished casual" to describe itself. The restaurant will open at 1910 Bagby later this month, offering four distinct rooms ("The Grille Room, The Saloon, The Dining Room and The Patio") in its 11,000-square-foot space. Luckily for many Midtowners, the patio portion of BlackFinn is dog-friendly, and the restaurant itself plans to keep late hours despite its upscale bent.
We might have lost La Mia, but we gained a satellite location of Melange Crêperie this week, as the popular crêpe stand opened its "Right Bank" location in the Heights. (To be quite honest, I'd rather have a second Melange Crêperie any day of the week, anyway.) It's located in the parking lot of Stella Sola, and -- as with the original -- you can follow Melange Right Bank on Twitter to keep up with its daily hours and specials.
In place of the shuttered Little Bigs, Pinewood Cafe has opened up in Hermann Park. Like BlackFinn, the patio here is dog-friendly, but there's more to the little place than just pups -- it also boasts a build-your-own grilled cheese bar, perfect for kids and grown-up kids alike.
Out in Sugar Land, the newest location of Youssef Nafaa's Mia Bella Trattoria has opened at First Colony Mall. According to a press release, this newest location "boasts a specially designed open kitchen and full bar with a sliding wall that opens onto a large outdoor patio."
As mentioned earlier this week, Tomo has closed and Nabi is opening in its place. The new restaurant will have an Asian fusion menu that runs the gamut from Korean fried chicken to Peking duck buns. Its grand opening is set for November 19, and Nabi will be throwing a huge party befitting its festive Montrose location.
And downtown, The Capitol opened its doors this week at Capitol and Main. Initial reports from readers indicate that the bar/restaurant has a Prohibition era vibe, but not as over-the-top as the atmosphere at Prohibition in the Galleria. In keeping with the theme, classic cocktails figure prominently on the drinks menu.
Cafe Red Onion on Eldridge Parkway finally shut its doors after many months of scraping along. But the space won't be vacant for long: Cafe Express is moving into the enormous endcap, and it's a location that Cafe Express's F&B Manager Greg Martin is particularly excited about -- it would be the farthest west that the chain has expanded so far.
The last Houston location of Burger Girl has closed despite a recent positive write-up from the Chron's Alison Cook. It's the third restaurant in this location in as many years, prompting Eater Houston to speculate that this is yet another cursed Houston restaurant location.
Part of La Mia, the crêperie on Memorial Drive, has changed its name to Fattoush. As one would expect from that name, this adjoining restaurant will be focusing exclusively on Mediterranean food, while B4-U-Eat reports that "La Mia is open again and La Mia Bakery (coming next year) will have a different entrance on the other side of that building."
Aroma Classique has changed its name to Moriah Cafe, but that seems to be the only change -- the restaurant is still serving the same kosher foods and Mediterranean fare as always.
Also keeping its menu intact despite a name change is Givral Hoang Vietnamese Café, which is now b10 Vietnamese Café. The restaurant explained its name change on its Facebook page, saying:
Our new name pays tribute to the banh mi that has put us on the map of Houston (b10 char grilled pork banh mi). Over the years there has been a great deal of confusion between Givral and another banh mi café. Though there is much history and nostalgia to the name "Givral," we have decided it would be best to distinguish b10's brand for the future of our company.
We have it on good authority that Old Heidelberg will no longer be a German restaurant when it reopens within a month or two. Instead, the owners are converting the space on Fountainview into a Middle Eastern restaurant. The same question I have for Old Heidelberg applies to Fattoush, too: Houston has plenty of Middle Eastern restaurants. If you're not bringing something new or extremely well-executed to the table, what's the point?
In other news, Saffron Moroccan Restaurant -- which was closed a month ago -- is currently being renovated and will open again soon, according to owner Youssef Nafaa. And next door, where the old Mia Bella used to be, the restaurant space is being converted into a commissary to supply food to the Mia Bella locations across Houston (and now Sugar Land).
Openings in October 2011:
The Bird & The Bear The Capitol at St. Germain Celtic Gardens Chuyos Peruvian Fusion Deli Coal Vines Pizza Gigi's Cupcakes Sugar Land Fattoush Mediterranean Cuisine Feng's Chinese Buffet Line & Lariat at the Hotel Icon Mi Cocina Mia Bella Trattoria (Sugar Land location) Pho Binh Noodle House & Grill Pinewood Cafe Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt, Webster Shepherd Park Draught House Stockyard Bar-B-Q Straw Hat Pizza Super Chicken
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Closings in October 2011:
Burger Girl (Katy Freeway location) Capital Q, Galveston ERA Restaurant & Bar La Parranda Mexican Restaurant Mia Bella Trattoria, Lexington (converted into commissary) Molto's Food & Cafe Mumbai Spice Old Heidelberg (remodeling) Pie Garden, Pearland Renegade Chicken Saffron Moroccan Cuisine (remodeling) Shmos Bistro Tomo Japanese Restaurant Voice at the Hotel Icon (now Line & Lariat) Yelapa Playa Mexicana