Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: True Food Kitchen and Flower Child Bring the Green

Openings and Closings: True Food Kitchen and Flower Child Bring the Green
Photo courtesy of True Food Kitchen Woodlands

True Food Kitchen, 9595 Six Pines, officially opened May 16, in The Woodlands. Co-founded by Dr. Andrew Weil, the best-selling author and integrative medicine guru, the restaurant's menu leans toward grass-fed steak, sustainable fish and creative twists on vegetable offerings. The menu also marks the items that are gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan.

The Woodlands location is the second in the Houston area with the first opening at 1700 Post Oak in 2014. Located in the popular Market Street retail center, the restaurant has an open kitchen that looks out into a dining room of bright green banquettes and bamboo tabletops. You feel healthy just looking at it.

However, it's the food that tells the tale. The concept centers around a health-driven and seasonally rotating menu. True Food Kitchen's Market Street menu includes veggie dishes like spaghetti squash casserole and miso-glazed eggplant. For non-veg diners, there are grass-fed steak tacos and sustainable sea bass.

click to enlarge It's ninety-five degrees in Houston. Time for a refresher. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TRUE FOOD KITCHEN WOODLANDS
It's ninety-five degrees in Houston. Time for a refresher.
Photo courtesy of True Food Kitchen Woodlands
Though the concept is one of real and nutritious foods, there are indulgences like flourless chocolate cake, which we assume is good for you because chocolate is an antioxidant. Not sure what the calorie count is, so moderation is key even when dining in a health conscious restaurant. For folks looking for a unique non-alcoholic beverage, there are juice cocktails called refreshers made with different ingredients like green tea, matcha and fruit juices. There is even a refresher called Kale Aid. It does not come out of a packet nor does it contain a cup of sugar. It does contain kale. In fact, a number of the dishes here include the super nutritious greens in some form. Like my friend Charles says, " If you're green inside, you're clean inside." He's almost eighty.

click to enlarge The doctor says we can have pizza. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TRUE FOOD KITCHEN WOODLANDS
The doctor says we can have pizza.
Photo courtesy of True Food Kitchen Woodlands

We hear daily about the benefits of alcohol in moderation so True Food Kitchen is doing its part by offering a line up of cocktails like citrus skinny margaritas and Farmers Market Sangria. There is a happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. so patrons in the bar or patio can sample small bites like herb hummus and half salads such as the Mediterranean quinoa for just five smackers. There is also a selection of wine, beer and handcrafted seasonal cocktails for $5.

click to enlarge Eat healthy, drink moderately and get some fresh air on the patio. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TRUE FOOD KITCHEN WOODLANDS
Eat healthy, drink moderately and get some fresh air on the patio.
Photo courtesy of True Food Kitchen Woodlands
The restaurant is open seven days a week and serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Flower Child, 1101 Uptown Park, is slated to open this summer, according to CultureMap Houston. The happy hippie restaurant is another chain from Fox Restaurants Concepts, the group behind True Food Kitchen. Owner Sam Fox has numerous James Beard nominations for Restaurateur of the Year under his belt along with Hot Concept Awards for his fast-casual brand, Sauce Pizza and Wine in 2005 and True Food Kitchen in 2011, according to GlobeNewswire. The restaurant shares some of the same organic ideas as TFK, with grass-fed steak and gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. It's a big summer for green and clean diners.

Unfortunately, Flower Child in Houston will not open in time for me to redeem my free birthday dessert. Phooey.

Photo courtesy of MALK BevBar

MALK BevBar, 3600 Kirby, had its soft Opening May 12. The plant-based beverage bar located inside Snap Kitchen is a collaboration with Snap and Greenway Coffee. Founder August Vega has severe dairy allergies and found it difficult to find plant-based alternatives on the go. After her son was born and developed the same dairy allergy, Vega and her brother, Justin Brodnax and her cousin Joel Canada created MALK, a plant-based beverage for people with dairy allergies or those just seeking vegan drink options.

click to enlarge Matcha, matcha man. I got to be a matcha man. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MALK BEVBAR
Matcha, matcha man. I got to be a matcha man.
Photo courtesy of MALK BevBar
Vega created the only three-ingredient almond milk, with no additives. There are also drinks made with cashews, pecans and of course, a coffee menu (caf or decaf) with brew from Greenway Coffee. Grab a snack or meal at Snap Kitchen to round out your green livin' lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers
Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, 4533 Kingwood, has begun construction and is slated to open this September. Freddy's was founded in 2002, with the first restaurant opening in Wichita, Kansas. It has expanded rapidly across 31 states, with more than 300 locations. The burger chain consistently wins awards and tops lists in the franchise industry.

The Kingwood location will seat 95 in its dining room, with an outdoor patio offering more seating. There is also drive-thru service. We recommend sitting inside and enjoying a lean steakburger, crispy shoestring fries and of course, a frozen custard shake. It will take you back to the Archies Comics. Who did you prefer - Betty or Veronica?

click to enlarge Line up the plates at Ray's. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RAY'S REAL PIT BBQ SHACK
Line up the plates at Ray's.
Photo courtesy of Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack
Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack, 3929 Old Spanish Trail, started service at its new location, May 11, according to CultureMap, just down the street from its original location. The barbecue joint has many loyal customers and it outgrew its original spot. The long lines of customers will still be there, but with more dining space and better parking.

Photo courtesy of Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack
Ray Busch,a retired sheriff's deputy with the Harris County Sheriff's Department, began his barbecue journey like many other pitmasters by taking his trailer around to various clubs. In 2011, he and friend Maxine Davis and her son, former NFL player Herb Taylor, opened up the brick and mortar Ray's next to a gas station and have been turning out smoked ribs, brisket and chicken ever since.

It's not just the barbecue though that whets the appetites of Ray's customers. The boudin, fried catfish and peach cobbler are standout favorites. Taylor told Cleverley Stone on Fox 26 News last month that on Fridays and Saturdays customers can order whole fried catfish. I wish I could share that news with my late East Texas Granny and long gone Louisiana PawPaw. They always told me that was the best way to eat catfish. I will have to check it out at Ray's.

Beard Papa's 23119 Colonial Parkway, is coming to Katy Asian Town, according to Eater Houston. We reached out to Beard Papa's for a projected opening date, but a spokesperson told the Press that the construction was still ongoing and they did not want to reveal an opening date as of yet.

The Japanese chain has more than 400 locations around the world and is known for its variety of cream puffs, using choux pastry and an exterior pie crust. There are traditional flavors like vanilla and chocolate, but also interesting fillings like green tea cream and honey butter. Some locations offer fondants and mochi ice cream, but whether or not that's the case in Houston remains to be seen. We'll keep you posted.

Fielding's Rooster, 4223 Research Forest, has closed for restaurant service and is being converted into a Fielding's catering and private dining venue instead, according to its Facebook page. The third restaurant in the Fielding's line-up opened in August 2017, serving free-range Rock Cornish chickens. Patrons are hoping to hear that popular items like theTennessee Red Chicken will be added to the menus at Fielding's Wood Grill and Fielding's Local Kitchen+ Bar.

click to enlarge Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DR. DAIQUIRI
Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Daiquiri

Doctor Daiquiri, 7850 FM 1960 West, opened in March in Humble,  serving colorful, frozen alcoholic beverages to go or to drink in store. With medically-inspired names like Butt Shot, Code Blue, and Say Ahh, the "frozen prescriptions" are a tasty way to get a little pick me up. The I.V., a mix of six different flavors, however, might knock you out.

On "Smedium Mondays", get a medium for the price of a small from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jello Shots are 2 for $1 every day. The daiquiris come in three sizes: small ($5.50), medium ($7.50), and the large 32oz for $9.50.

We're not sure if Dr. Weil would approve, but with the heat of summer already wilting our famously big Texas hairdos, Dr. Daiquiri has the remedy.

Photo courtesy of Urban Eats
Urban Eats, 3414 Washington, has added new coverings and lighting to both its outdoor patio and rooftop terrace, along with a new happy hour menu. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, enjoy 1/2 price craft cocktails, $4 wells, house wine and draft beer.

For a nice nosh after work, the happy hour menu offers the restaurant's signature sliders for $4 including the Cowboy, a Salisbury burger with cheddar, bacon and onion strings, topped with house-made barbecue sauce. Or the Mob Boss, made with breaded eggplant, meatloaf, sopressata, mozzarella and marinara. There is also a Fried Green Tomato BLT. You know what? For $4 each, just try them all.

Eunice, 3737 Buffalo Speedway, is slated for a late summer 2018 opening, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Cajun-Creole brasserie has been in the works for a while, but Hurricane Harvey put the plans on hold and then an even bigger blow was dealt with the allegations by employees of Besh Restaurant Group of sexual harrassment against the company and its high-profile chef/owner John Besh. You can read more about the allegations here in the Press.

This will be the first Houston concept from New Orleans-based BRG Hospitality, the company behind such renowned NOLA restaurants like Restaurant August, Luke and Domenica.

Executive chef and partner, Drake Leonards will create a menu inspired by his childhood in Eunice, Louisiana. Leonards graduated from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, so diners can expect some seriously authentic Cajun and Creole dishes like New Orleans-style gumbo, and redfish court bouillon. There will also be a full raw bar featuring crab, oysters and shrimp from Louisiana and Texas.

B. Good, 2162 Stuebner, is having a grand opening celebration this Saturday, May 19. There will be prizes, contests and entertainment. The eatery, with a focus on local farms and nutritious foods, opened April 27, as recently reported here in the Press. Check out its Facebook page for details on winning some free grub.

click to enlarge The smiling faces of Agricole Hospitality's newest venture. - PHOTO BY CARLA GOMEZ
The smiling faces of Agricole Hospitality's newest venture.
Photo by Carla Gomez
Whispers and rumblings have been heard for over a year now about Agricole Hospitality's newest development in East Downtown, a space which will be occupied by three different concepts: Indianola, Vinny's and Miss Carousel.

While the opening date of the much-anticipated venture from Agricole is not set, the leadership team is well on its way. Paul Lewis will be executive chef. He and Ryan Pera, co-owner of Agricole, worked together for years at the Four Seasons. Pera says that he and Lewis have " a similar approach to cooking".

Lewis is from England and and began his first job at the age of 11 in the kitchen at the Michelin-rated Royal Oak Hotel at Yattendon, an hour west of London. After culinary school and internships, in 1997 he came to the United States to work with chef Tom Keating at the Four Seasons in Houston and eventually in Dublin, before returning here and working with a number of other Houston restaurants including his own, Paul's Kitchen which shuttered in 2016.

Ben Neumann will have the gargantuan job as general manager of all three concepts. He has plenty of experience in that regard, including seven years managing Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen, and more recently as Director of Operations at FEEDTX Restaurant Group where he managed the opening of six of its restaurants.

Marie-Louise Friedland will serve as beverage director. Raised in a restaurant family, Friedland, spent time working in San Francisco for Michelin starred restaurants such as Quince and State Bird Provisions, where she served as wine director and assistant general manager, earning a number of awards and accolades from the wine industry. She recently returned to her native Texas with her husband.

Natasha Douglas has cooked in Michelin starred restaurants around the world, including Spain and Vietnam, where she worked with Michael Roux. She returned to Houston as pastry chef and then sous chef at The Grove at Discovery Green before taking a position with Levy Restaurants at the George R. Brown Convention Center. She will be the production chef for the three new Agricole concepts.
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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.