Openings and Closings: SING Debuts, Bonjour Bisou

Chili and crab make sweet music together at SING.
Chili and crab make sweet music together at SING. Photo courtesy of SING

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Chili and crab make sweet music together at SING.
Photo courtesy of SING
SING, 718 West 18th, will celebrate its grand opening on October 22. The new Asian fusion restaurant comes from the team of chef and food writer, Cuc Lam and restaurateur, Jerry Lasco of Lasco Enterprises. Lasco is best known for Max's Wine Dive and The Tasting Room. Lam was formerly a Houston Press food critic and writer, pop-up chef extraordinaire and creator of the blog, Just Cuc It. Perhaps Lam's parents knew her destiny when they blessed her with the moniker Cuc.

Jerry Lasco and Cuc Lam have combined forces.
Photo courtesy of SING
The casual restaurant has a menu that draws on Lam's travels to Singapore and the eclectic melting pot of cultures and cuisines that make up the country. Its national patois is Singlish, which is a blending of the four major languages spoken; English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Its culinary language is a mash-up as well. Lam's cooking is inspired by the Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian and Indian influences on Singaporean food culture.

SING softly opened in early October and the chili crab rangoons, chicken tikka masala, and charkway teow were the standouts. Charkway teow is a noodle dish of flat, wide noodles and pork. There are also several satays and various rice and noodle dishes to choose from. Many of the dishes are gluten-free and those that are not have been denoted on the menu.

There is beer and wine available, as well as sake and sake based cocktails. For non-alcoholic beverages, there are several specialty teas. If you want to expand the palate of your wee ones, there is a kids menu.

Artist rendering courtesy of SING
While Lam's food is getting rave reviews, the restaurant has seen some minor hiccups due to staffing issues. A spokesperson told the Houston Press, "After soft opening for a few days last week, we decided to take a step back and spend more time developing our staff members."

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Un petit bisou.
Photo courtesy of Vicheka

Bisou, 4444 Westheimer will open October 22. The glamorous new restaurant from the Cle Group is bringing its brand of continental cuisine to River Oaks, with chef Frederic Perrier at the helm. Born in Lyon, France, Perrier has an extensive culinary background beginning with his apprenticeship under Georges Blanc, a stint as private chef for the French ambassador to the United Nations, chef and co-owner of Grille 5115 at Saks Fifth Avenue and most recently chef and owner of AURA in Sugar Land, which he sold last year.

In 2015, Perrier was inducted into the Maitres des Cusiniers de France, along with another Houston chef, Phillipe Verpiand of Etoile.

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Rack of lamb with shepherd's pie.
Photo courtesy of Vicheka
The menu will feature ingredient-focused dishes like rack of lamb with lamb neck shepherd's pie and Hamachi sashimi with pan seared foie gras, apple butter and Lillet. Expect carefully crafted cocktails and premium wines. Like you had to ask.

The contemporary and oh-so-chic decor from the design firm, Studio Five Design, will be highlighted by custom black columns and an "interior full of brass". We're not sure what that means, but we bet it will be fancy.

The Cle Group consists of partners Andrew Estes, Zack Truesdell, Salim Dehkordi and Dallas Rodriguez, the team behind swanky Houston nightclubs, Cle and Spire.

Genesis Steakhouse and Wine Bar, 80 Braeswood Square, began a soft opening for its new location October 8. The original restaurant at 5427 Bissonnet closed to relocate to the new spot. The restaurant was the first kosher steakhouse in the southwestern United States in 2014. It also keeps the Sabbath by closing at 3 p.m. on Friday and reopening on Sunday morning at 11 a.m.

Besides prime, all-natural beef, there are several pasta dishes, slow-smoked beef ribs, lamb chops and smoked Long Island duckling. Genesis also offers a kosher sushi bar and interesting menu items like salmon "calamari" and shawarma fries. There is no shellfish in keeping with Jewish dietary law.

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Post Oak Grilled Ribeye on Post Oak Lane.
Photo by Daniel Ortiz

TRIBUTE, 111 North Post Oak, will open October 26 at The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa. After a $3 million  renovation, the new restaurant and bar will feature a menu centered around its "Tex-Lex" cuisine, a combination of regional fare from Texas, Louisiana and Mexico. Executive chef Neil Cox, along with his kitchen, will be creating dishes like a Louisiana-style crab au gratin with pernod fondue and wood-fired Gulf Coast oysters. Sous chef Juan Tuch's sopa de cabrito, made with braised goat, blue corn mesa, refritos, pickled cabbage and queso fresco will take you south of the border, while the ten-ounce Texas Cab Filet Mignon will keep your boots firmly in the Lone Star State.

For lunch there are more casual offerings like Boudreaux's Po-Boy with crispy shrimp and remoulade on a buttery baguette or smoked chicken salad served on Good Co. jalapeno cheese toast.

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Celebrate Thanksgiving early with bourbon pecan pie.
Photo by Daniel Ortiz
The extensive wine program will be under the the direction of sommelier, Vanessa Trevino Boyd, and there will be a custom wine room with over 3,500 bottles. The room, which features a wine bottle waterfall, will seat two to four guests for exclusive wine pairings hosted by Boyd.

The hotel restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Put a little love in your cappuccino.
Photo courtesy of Snooze
Snooze: An AM Eatery, 820 West Bay Area Boulevard, is set to open November 14 in a new development. The breakfast and lunch eatery founded in Denver, Colorado has four Houston area locations and is on track to open a couple of more in 2019, including one at 5000 Westheimer in the former Arcodoro space and one in the Woodlands next summer.

Conde Nast's international travel site listed Snooze as one of the best places to eat and drink in Houston. Houstonians are pretty enthusiastic about it themselves. The pancake flights are a popular item and are a great way to taste three of the yummy pancakes on offer. The Smashing Pumpkin with its cream cheese filling and maple-spiced pepitas is on point for those seeking an autumnal pancake fix.

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If you Snooze, you definitely do not lose.
Photo courtesy of Snooze
If eggs Benedict is part of your regular brunch munch, the Bennys at Snooze offer variations on a theme. There's the Benny Goodman, with lox and cream cheese on toasted rye or the chile verde Benny with pulled pork or barbacoa style beef. It's topped with green chili hollandaise and bottomed by green chili-sauced tortillas.Wash that verde goodness down with one of the morning cocktails available or a coffee drink.

There are sandwiches and salads for the lunch bunch. And more cocktails.

Snooze is also committed to sustainability and the company has received several awards for its efforts. It also serves more than breakfast and lunch to the communities in which it is located. In the days leading up to the November 14 public opening, the new Clear Lake Snooze will host invitation only events to raise money for several non-profits. In this case, one-hundred percent of proceeds will go to The Birthday Joy Project, Galveston Bay Foundation and Bay Area Pet Adoptions. Awesome.

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There will be beer.
Photo courtesy Klaus Brewing Company
Klaus Brewing Company, 10142 Jones Road, is celebrating its grand opening and Klaustoberfest, October 20, perfectly timed for Oktoberfest and cooler temperatures. We reported on the new brewery and tap room's opening here in the Houston Press. There will be two food trucks, The Deutscher Fleischwagen for German eats and Paco Y Nani's Last Stop Smokehouse for Mexican barbecue. There will be beer.

Wear your best lederhosen or dirndl to win prizes or try your hand at axe-throwing and stein-hoisting. There will be two German bands, Auf Ghets and The Homebrewed Brass Ensemble for your dancing feet. The fun starts at noon and lasts until 10 p.m.. General admission is $23 and includes a pilsner glass and three pours. For an extra seven bucks, you can attend a half hour earlier, get an extra pour and a special gold-rimmed Klaus stemmed glass. Designated drivers and guests under 21 are admitted to the fun for $5. Needless to say, that does not include a glass or beer.

Cultivated Food + Beverage, 701 Texas, opened October 15 at the newly renovated Lancaster Hotel. The historic 1926 building has undergone a ten month and multi-million dollar renovation after the Shinn family of Dallas took over ownership in July 2017.

Cultivated will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with chef Fernando Huerta in charge of the kitchen, along with Allan Levine as Director of Food and Beverage. Dinner choices include prime ribeye or filet mignon, roasted half-chicken and pan seared crispy salmon. Lunch will be a little lighter on the wallet with items like curry chicken sandwich and braised short rib tacos. Loyal patrons of the Lancaster will be happy to know that The Lancaster Bread Pudding is still on the menu.

In between the hotel lobby and Cultivated Food + Beverage there is an espresso bar, Speedy Boy Coffee, for hotel guests and downtown visitors and employees.

Drew's Pastry Place, closed at its former location on Louetta in Cypress in August, but the loss to the Vintage Park neighborhood will soon be a gift to the Memorial City Mall folks. Owner Drew Rogers, who made an appearance on Cake Boss Buddy Valastro's spin-off reality show, Buddy's Bakery Rescue, in 2014, draws on his Italian heritage to create cannoli, cookies and delicious pastries, plus pizza and sandwiches. The new business, Dolce & Cannoli is on track to open by the holiday season, according to the Facebook page for Drew's Pastry Place. For Walmart and Target, that would have been late August.

Cafe Express, 6570 Woodway, has closed, according to CultureMap Houston. The fast-casual lunch hot spot was founded in 1984 by Robert Del Grande and Lonnie Schiller, the team behind Houston's Cafe Annie. Two other locations in Austin and Dallas also recently closed, with a previous Houston area store at 5311 FM 1960 having closed in February of this year.

The chain has seen big changes over the years, including being part of the fast food giant Wendy's portfolio, but was sold back to the Schiller Del Grande team in 2007, according to the Dallas News. It has also seen a rise in competition with fast-casual places like Panera Bread and others.

It was acquired by M. Terry Enterprises in 2016 and has seen some restructuring, including moving the headquarters from Houston to Dallas.

Zoe's Kitchen, 4505 Kingwood Drive, had its grand opening on September 27. The healthy Mediterranean chain was founded more than 20 years ago in Birmingham, Alabama and is now headquartered in Plano, Texas. It offers light dishes such as soups, sandwiches and salads with a Mediterranean bent. There are starters such as hummus, baked feta and falafel. Besides dine-in, take-out and delivery, there are also pre-packaged snacks and meals.

Now's the time for Chuy's tortilla soup.
Photo by Houston Press
Chuy's, 20322 Tomball Parkway, opened October 16. The Tex-Mex chain was founded in Austin and has expanded its funky decor and Elvis shrines to twenty states across the country. The new Vintage Park locale has an outdoor patio for enjoying the fall weather (if the rain ever stops). The Shiner Bock-marinated fajitas, thin tortilla chips and variety of sauces is what keeps patrons coming back for more. And for those in the Tomball/Willowbrook/Vintage Park area who miss the New Mexico cuisine of the now shuttered Santa Fe Flats, you can give the stacked enchiladas at Chuy's a try and see how they compare.

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These street tacos have street cred.
Photo courtesy of Tacos Regios El Coquis
Tacos Regios-El Coquis #3, 12555 Westheimer, opened September 15 in the Westchase area. This is the first brick and mortar restaurant for the business, which also operates two taco trucks in the Houston area. It sells Monterrey-style street tacos, including trompa which is achiote-rubbed pork cooked on a vertical rotisserie, similar to gyro or shawarma. In fact, the technique came from Lebanese immigrants in Mexico. Most people are familiar with them as tacos al pastor.

The restaurant also sells street tacos like bistek and barbacoa. If you're a bean eater, you can upgrade your frijoles charros with a choice of meats. As for the corn tortillas, you might want to order them "light" if you prefer to not have them run through oil first.
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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.