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A smoky rita pairs beautifully with caramelized pork bites.EXPAND
A smoky rita pairs beautifully with caramelized pork bites.
Photo by Steve Chenn

Openings and Closings: Perry's Steakhouse Debuts in River Oaks, Verandah Indian Opens

Perry's Steakhouse and Grille, 1997 West Gray, opened February 11. The stunning two story restaurant and bar takes over the space that was previously a California Kitchen and as many Houstonians of a certain age remember, a hopping Birra Poretti's. The location in the River Oaks Shopping Center is the first Perry's Steakhouse within the 610 Loop. Founder and owner Chris Perry said in a press release, " We are thrilled to open our first Perry's Steakhouse located within the inner loop of Houston. Houston is our hometown and thanks to the support of the local community, we've come a long way from our butcher shop beginnings."

Perry's Steakhouse glows in the River Oaks sunset.EXPAND
Perry's Steakhouse glows in the River Oaks sunset.
Photo by Steve Chenn

We are all a little more sophisticated and some more well-heeled, which is a good thing if you are stepping out in River Oaks and stepping in to Perry's Bar 79, which takes up the entire first floor of the new design. The main dining room is located up an elegant staircase, lit by a multi-globed glass chandelier. Beverage Director Susi Zivanovic told the Houston Press that there is an elevator for those who cannot navigate the stairs or prefer a less daunting exit after a few cocktails.

For patrons wanting a drink after work and a little nosh, Social Hour 79 in the bar area runs Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with $9 select cocktails and bar bites. Settle in at one of the comfortable bar stools, a table with your pals or an outdoor patio spot and enjoy a refreshing Lemon Bubbles made with Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Caravella limoncello, fresh lemon juice and topped off with Chandon Brut. For margarita lovers, a smoky rita rimmed with habanero salt satisfies. Sliders 79, Beef and Bleu, and escargot are a few of the offerings on the bar bites menu.

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Perry's Bar 79 offers a taste of the upstairs dining experience to come.EXPAND
Perry's Bar 79 offers a taste of the upstairs dining experience to come.
Photo by Steve Chenn

The corner building makes for pleasant views of the surrounding area from the second story dining room, which has private dining spaces as well. There is also a small patio area wrapping the building with a dozen small tables for enjoying cocktails and bar bites, like the pork chop bites, a sampling of Perry's famous seven finger pork chop cut into more manageable cubes. Speaking of the infamous pork chop, Perry's restaurant group is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year by giving away a year's worth of Pork Chop Friday lunches. Check out its Facebook page and Instagram for more details.

Verandah reflects the evolving cuisine of India.EXPAND
Verandah reflects the evolving cuisine of India.
Photo by Ruben Courtade

Verandah Progressive Indian Restaurant, 3300 Kirby, debuted February 11 in the Upper Kirby/River Oaks area as part of the Kirby Collection, a mixed-use development. It is the first inner loop location for chef/owner Sunil Srivastava and wife Anupama. The couple previously owned and operated Great W'Kana in West Houston, a restaurant that has made the Houston Chronicle's Top 100 list every year since 2011. Great W'Kana, however, has closed in order for the couple to focus on the new venture.

Chef Srivastava is still smiling despite some delays in opening.EXPAND
Chef Srivastava is still smiling despite some delays in opening.
Photo by Ruben Courtade

Srivastava is renowned for his signature kebabs like the plantain kebab and the galouti, which is a minced meat kebab. The cuisine at Verandah will reflect the evolution of Indian food, covering regions across the country. While the menu will be ever-changing, the chef will continue to offer his signature dishes as well. Many of the ingredients will be locally sourced including some vegetables from the owners' home garden.

Verandah's decor combines elegance and color.EXPAND
Verandah's decor combines elegance and color.
Photo by Ruben Courtade

There will be a semi-private space for a chef's table plus a glassed-in semi-private room for parties and meetings, with a set-up for audio and visual equipment. While the restaurant will be open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, it is still in its soft opening phase and is only open for dinner service at present, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Chef Monica Fallone and husband Luis Mancera are rebranding Borgo.EXPAND
Chef Monica Fallone and husband Luis Mancera are rebranding Borgo.
Photo by Leah Wilson Photography

Mina Ristorante, 3641 West Alabama, will open in April 2019. Chef Monica Fallone and husband Luis Mancera are changing their fast casual, European gastro-market, Borgo Food Station, into a dine-in Italian restaurant, reflecting their Italian and European roots.

The transition from Borgo into the destination Italian eatery will begin mid-February. Erin Hicks is the designer, with a look to a chic, intimate dining space of 2,000 square feet. The menu will be inspired by Borgo's fresh ingredients and will include antipasti, house-made pastas, classic entrees and desserts. The wine list will offer traditional and organic varietals.

Fallone and Mancera have a culinary background that spans three continents and 30 years, including successful concepts in Miami and Carracas, as well as consulting work in Latin America and Europe.

Mancera says, "Both Monica and I were raised in families where everything revolved around the kitchen, which is considered to be the soul of the home." In April, diners will be able to experience some of that Italian soul food.

Squable, 632 W.19th, is expected to open later this spring, according to CultureMap Houston. The new restaurant will take over the vacated Southern Goods spot with James Beard award-winning chef Justin Yu of Theodore Rex and Bobby Heugel, owner and co-founder of Anvil Bar and Refuge, leading the venture. The powerhouse duo behind Better Luck Tomorrow, which made Bon Appetit's Top 50 Restaurants this past year and the Top Ten for 2018 in Food and Wine magazine, are bringing along some of their top talent as partners. Mark Clayton, who worked with Yu at his former tasting restaurant Oxheart and Drew Gimma, baker extraordinaire, formerly of Common Bond and currently at BLT, will join Yu and Heugel in creating the new concept.

Terry Williams who oversees operations for Anvil and BLT will also be a partner and general manager. BLT bartender Anna Wilkins, formerly of Eight Row Flint and Julep, will take on the role of head bartender when Squable opens.Veteran sommelier, Justin Vann, will create the wine list.

The new restaurant will feature European-style dishes with American and Texan touches. Handmade pasta and oysters are a couple of highlights to be expected.

Openings and Closings: Perry's Steakhouse Debuts in River Oaks, Verandah Indian OpensEXPAND
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Trattoria Italian Restaurant, 10219 Cypresswood, is coming soon. That's all we know.

Me'lange Vietnamese Restaurant, 311 West Gray, opened mid-January. The restaurant offers standard Vietnamese dishes like pho, banh mi and vermicelli bowls plus Chinese, Thai and Korean menu offerings. For late night Montrose party people, the restaurant often stays open into the wee hours of the morning, so a hot bowl of pho or beef stew might nip a hangover in the bud.

Ramen Okidoki, 10603 Bellaire Boulevard, opened February 2 in Saigon Houston Plaza, taking over the spot occupied by Lim's Chicken. The ramen concept is originally out of Astoria, New York.

Fans of Lim's will still be able to enjoy Lim's popular chicken wings, listed as Lim's x Okidoki on the menu. Ramen slurpers have choices in how much heat they would prefer, though Yelpers are saying the R U Okidoki, a chicken broth based ramen delivers more of a kick than the spicy pork tonkatsu. Nearly everyone agrees that the pork chashu in the ramen is especially good.

Diners can begin with the typical edamame starter or opt for the more unusual takoyaki, a dish of pancake balls made with octopus.

La Macro, 1040 West Cavalcade, will open this week in the space previously occupied by Mam's House of Ice, according to CultureMap. Owner Saul Obregon has made this venture before with a brick and mortar including a spot that closed down in 2014 due to issues with the light rail, then another spot on Washington Avenue as a bar. Obregon went back to serving trompo tacos from his food truck at Raven Tower and for private events.

Now, he's found a spot in the Heights that fits better with his desire to be family-friendly. The restaurant will serve the al pastor pork tacos from the rotating spit (trompo) plus street tacos, burgers, tortas and quesadillas. If you want to go hog wild, try the Trompi burger. It's a beef patty topped with white cheese, grilled onions and pork trompo.

Another draw for families will be the snow cones and ice cream. Obregon has brought in friend Rene Ramirez to help him with the frozen treats side of the business.

A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Obregon's family came to the United States when he was eight years old. After a career in welding, metal art sculpting, and mechanical design and engineering, he opened the first Taqueria La Macro in 2012, exciting fans of the Nuevo Leon-style tacos de trompo. La Macro is named for the Macroplaza, a large grand plaza, park and meeting place in Monterrey.

Fried chicken sliders make for a more perfect union.EXPAND
Fried chicken sliders make for a more perfect union.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

The Union Kitchen, 4057 Bellaire Boulevard, has a new chef and a new menu. Jesse Esquivel, formerly of Perry's Steakhouse and Grande Luxe Cafe, will serve as executive chef and has already revamped half the menu, bringing back some old favorites and rolling out some fresh, new items as well.

On the returning side, regular customers will be happy to see the prosciutto arugula pizza, which will be cooked in the newly installed Peerless stone oven. Paul's BBQ Sandwich and Mama P's Baked Brie are also coming back. New dishes include bayou pasta linguine ,Reuben egg rolls and shrimp and grits at dinner, plus lunchtime offerings like short rib grilled cheese and salmon and basil pesto risotto.

Prosciutto arugula pizza is back at The Union Kitchen.EXPAND
Prosciutto arugula pizza is back at The Union Kitchen.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday and will feature new items like Katie's Nutella crepes and the Hash Hangover burger. Brunchers can get started on their next hangover with Dad's Morning Juice, a cocktail of orange vodka, orange juice and grapefruit. Don't forget the $2 mimosas.

To accompany the changing menu, sommelier Craig Lindstrom has created a new wine list. There are also new cocktails and craft beer choices.

The original Union Kitchen was founded in 2010 by Paul Miller and wife Doris of Gr8 Plate Hospitality. There are now five restaurants with an upcoming Katy location expected to open later this year.

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