Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: The Bar Beat Gets Busy While Sushi Spots Shutter

Weeks like this one make it hard to believe I'm actually leaving this post next Friday, because what a whirlwind of activity we've seen in the last seven days.

First is news of four exciting new bars heading to downtown, north downtown and Montrose. Two of those bars are from the Clumsy Butcher team (the guys behind Anvil, Blacksmith, The Hay Merchant, Underbelly, OKRA Charity Saloon -- you know, them), and one was a total surprise. The team had already announced plans for a tequila bar, but a press release issued this week added another bar to their downtown roster.

The Pastry War will be a tequila bar at 310 Main that also carries "an incredible selection of mezcals and tequilas, many of which have never been poured in Texas previously." The bar, named for a Mexican battle against French forces, will also serve classic Mexican cocktails and beer at what Clumsy Butcher promises will be affordable prices.

The surprise bar is Trigger Happy, which will open right next door at 308 Main (yes, that's underneath Bad News Bar). The bar plans to carry "around 50-60 wines and 20 beers on draft," all of which will be "bold and daring," the selection chosen as a "tribute to the drinks Clumsy Butcher loves and wants to share with Houston."

Meanwhile in Montrose, a new wine bar is headed into the space next door to Paulie's. Camerata will be a joint venture between Paulie's owner Paul Petronella and David Keck, a wine savant who was most recently the beverage director for Uchi. Camerata will have its own separate entrance, although Paulie's customers can enter the bar directly from the restaurant as well.

"In the Camerata at Paulie's, David wants to provide an unpretentious meeting place where guests can enjoy delicious beverages that are made by people not companies, and speak of the place where they are grown, harvested, fermented, and bottled," writes Petronella on his website. "The food menu will be limited to fine charcuterie and cheese options. If looking for a full meal, dinner at Paulie's is recommended, then follow with drinks next door at Camerata."

And in north downtown, here's a fun blind item for you to puzzle out: A popular Mexican restaurant will soon be significantly expanding its patio and its dining room, the latter to make way for a full-scale bar.

In openings news, the restaurant that took over the old Convivio space on Durham is now open. Katch-22 is partnership between two native sons of Houston legends: Kory Clemens, whose father is former Houston Astro MVP Roger Clements, and Luke Mandola, whose entire family runs half of the restaurants in Houston among them. That's a rough estimate. Katch-22 calls its concept a "new alternative to casual dining" that's "Sports in Spirit, Modern in Style!" with a menu that seems family-friendly instead of trendy.

In closings news, heads up if you want to catch Feast before the British restaurant closes for good: The closure has been pushed up to June 14. "Also, please be advised," the restaurant posted on its Twitter account. "our liquor license runs out June 3. So after that we are officially BYOB!"

Just a few blocks away, Sushi Raku has closed its doors after a three-year run in Midtown. But it wasn't the only sushi spot to shutter this week: Zushi on Memorial Drive closed as well. No word on what will become of talented chef Chris Nemoto, but at least there's good news for the equally talented chef Adison Lee of Sushi Raku.

Lee has landed a job as the chef at Kuu, the new Japanese restaurant in the Memorial area that plans to open this fall. Kuu is just one of the restaurants slated to open in the Gateway Memorial City development that's long been under construction at Gessner and I-10, just west of Memorial City Mall.

The other two restaurants are Tony Vallone's new steakhouse -- Vallone's -- which was announced late last year, and a new location of Churrasco's. The Memorial spot will be the Houston-based chain's fourth location.

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Katharine Shilcutt