Openings & Closings: t'afia Becomes Sparrow Bar & Cookshop and The Broken Spoke Breaks Down

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After being closed for only two short weeks, Monica Pope's t'afia has already been transformed and reopened as Sparrow Bar & Cookshop. The new concept opened its doors this past Tuesday, August 14, with what's being described as "a free-flowing and easily sharable menu."

That menu is somewhat interactive: You practically build your own burger out of a short array of ingredients and toppings, for example, and the sides menu lets you combine three into one plate for $18 -- which seems pricey, but choices like milled potatoes with beet chutney or mac 'n' cheese with speck and peas may just bear that cost out. Entrées include dishes such as venison noisettes and king mackerel in lemon butter, while shareable plates feature items like cumin-grilled quail.

"At Sparrow, I am going to be cooking the things I would make at home for my family and friends -- fresh, unpretentious and full of flavor," said Pope in a press release. "I want people to stop by without a reason or reservation, but we'll certainly accommodate that, too." The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, with a brunch service on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

In its weekly e-mail, B4-U-Eat noted that there had recently been an ominous post on the Facebook wall of The Broken Spoke, the little restaurant on Washington Avenue which had become well-known for its Belgian cuisine and excellent Belgian beer list. Wrote owner Roy de la Garza:

Sadly, here I sit about to eat the last meal I will eat in this building still known as the Broken Spoke Cafe. As I thought about what I should eat, I got to thinking about all of you. Over the last three and a half years the customers of this place have been a sincere source of joy for me. When I first went back to working for the school district, it was difficult not seeing all of you regulars that I had grown to know. You formed the heart and soul of the place and I feel honored to have gotten the chance to know all of you. Thanks for your support over the years.

Another group to whom I owe a lot would be the staff. They stuck it out through thick and thin. They are without a doubt some of the most dedicated and talented people I know. I thank you for all that you've done for me and the cafe.

In the beginning of this venture I was sure it wouldn't make it six months. It's all of you that made it work while it did. Always remember that you were the most important part of the Broken Spoke Cafe. Take care.

Although B4-U-Eat indicated that the restaurant was still open for now, my own phone calls to The Broken Spoke were not answered, nor was there an answering machine on the other end of all those rings.

In better news, 1252 Tapas Bar is officially open at its new Uptown Park location. Local blogger Hank On Food went to the media preview party for the Spanish restaurant and came away impressed with both the small bites and the specialty concoctions like a "margatini," which is exactly what it sounds like.

Finally, Eater Houston alerts us to an interview with homebuilder Miguel Facundo -- who is also known for his restaurant-in-a-car-wash Facundo Cafe, a personal favorite -- in which he discusses plans for his upcoming full-service restaurant.

Soon, writes Betsy Denson in The Leader, "Facundo will open Facundo Restauranté on Alba Road across from the American Legion Hall." Facundo's plans for the space include "more continental" cuisine, a Saturday brunch, a small bar and a wine room. "The wine room will be more intimate," he tells Denson, "but the rest of the structure will have more of an open concept feel."

Facundo Restauranté is aiming to open in late 2012 or early 2013.

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