Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Satisfy Will Open, Reef Closes

Vegetable spring rolls will be a healthy choice in the New Year.
Vegetable spring rolls will be a healthy choice in the New Year. Photo by Shannon Smith

click to enlarge Vegetable spring rolls will be a healthy choice in the New Year. - PHOTO BY SHANNON SMITH
Vegetable spring rolls will be a healthy choice in the New Year.
Photo by Shannon Smith

Satisfy, 2229 San Felipe, will open on the first floor of San Felipe Place in spring 2020. The healthy eating concept comes from Grant Cooper and Charles Clark of Clark Cooper Concepts, with Houston restaurants Ibiza, Coppa Osteria, Punk's Simple Southern Food, Brasserie 19 and The Dunlavy in its portfolio. Ibiza, however, will close February 2020 while The Dunlavy will begin full service in January.

click to enlarge Chocolate and avocado make a delicious mousse at Satisfy. - PHOTO BY SHANNON SMITH
Chocolate and avocado make a delicious mousse at Satisfy.
Photo by Shannon Smith
Satisfy will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with the mission of "Nourishing to Fuel." The focus will be on pure, ethically sourced sustainable foods and goods. The restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Besides the dine-in menus, there will be meal planning items, grab-n-go and retail products.

Chef Samuel Walter, former chef de cuisine at Uchiko in Austin and Lenoir, has created a nutritious menu that also allows for more indulgent treats. Vegetable spring rolls with sprouted cashew coconut dipping sauce and the Big Mac-robiotic Wrap will offer nutritional, vegetarian hits while Bison Tartare and Bison Tenderloin will satisfy carnivores. There is also a Jackfruit "Pulled Pork" Sandwich and Beet Gnocci. Wine and beer are also on the menu.

Chef Walter will be doing pop-ups at The Dunlavy to preview the menu.

click to enlarge Chef Bryan Caswell (center) was a judge at Houston Press Tacolandia  2018. - PHOTO BY BOB RUGGIERO
Chef Bryan Caswell (center) was a judge at Houston Press Tacolandia 2018.
Photo by Bob Ruggiero

Reef, 2600 Travis, has closed. The restaurant and its adjacent 3rd Bar have shuttered, as we reported here in the Houston Press. Owner and chef Bryan Caswell has been one of the top stars in the Houston dining scene after opening Reef in 2008. The restaurant quickly became notable for the Louisiana native's use of Gulf seafood, including bycatch, the fish that most restaurants overlook. The chef discussed it with Bon Appetit's Andrew Knowlton in 2012, along with other Houston chefs, including Chris Shepherd and Justin Yu. Caswell was one of the young pioneers to help Houston break through nationally as a top dining destination in the country, though long overdue.

The restaurant was named Food and Wine magazine's " Best Seafood Restaurant" in 2008, catapulting Caswell onto the national scene with two subsequent James Beard nominations and a stint on The Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef" in 2010 . That success also led to more restaurant concepts with partner Bill Floyd.

Unfortunately, in August 2017, his restaurant, Reef, was devastated by flooding from Hurricane Harvey. However, he, wife Jennifer, and his crew managed to use the kitchens to cook meals for first responders and victims of the hurricane. In September, however, Caswell closed his Montrose burger slider joint, Little Bigs. At the same time, the Caswells opened Oxbow 7 at Le Meridien. This was to be a very personal concept, driven by the chef's creative cooking. Four months later, the Caswells parted ways with the hotel without much transparency from either side.

In the meantime, fans of Reef began to wonder if the celebrated restaurant would ever reopen. The Caswells also suffered another natural disaster when their home was struck by lightning in July 2018, resulting in the loss of the third floor, according to ABC13. Fortunately, the nanny was able to get their children out of the home safely, as the couple were busy working at Reef at the time.

3rd Bar had just rolled out an awesome happy hour. - PHOTO BY POP STUDIO
3rd Bar had just rolled out an awesome happy hour.
Photo by Pop Studio
In June 2019, Reef finally reopened after nearly two years of being shuttered. However, there was very little publicity and no one was really sure if the restaurant was doing full service, though the adjacent 3rd Bar was operating. In that time, it was also announced that the Caswells were divorcing. Caswell had also parted ways with partner Bill Floyd, who currently has a lawsuit against him.

Then, this past October, Caswell's Tex-Mex restaurant,El Real, abruptly shuttered and news spread fast that there were employees who alleged that they had not been paid, some for weeks, according to Eater Houston. The press release only furthered online speculation in regards to Caswell's impending divorce, financial situation and health.

And now it seems, Caswell's health is a contributing factor to the closure of his signature restaurant. The statement from the restaurant said, " After a recent cardiac event that necessitated a hospital stay, combined with other economic factors, chef Bryan Caswell has made the decision to close Reef & 3rd Bar".

While there are rumbles about unpaid wages and employees left in the dust, there are also plenty of supporters who are concerned about the chef's future and well-being. Many of them would love to see Caswell return to the Houston restaurant scene with a concept equal to the much-loved Reef.

click to enlarge Lotti Dotti Patio Bar served up Houston-themed cocktails. - PHOTO BY REGGIETURTLE@ICLOUD.COM
Lotti Dotti Patio Bar served up Houston-themed cocktails.
Lotti Dotti, 601 Richmond, closed November 22. It opened in the former Brooklyn Athletic space June 15, 2019. With favorable reviews and Houston-themed cocktails, we are still in the dark as to why the popular cocktail bar closed. When we contacted the business through Facebook, we were told, "No comment", as we reported here in the Press.

However, on its Facebook page a post referred to "unforeseen circumstances" as the cause of service being stopped.

The bar was a partnership between Adam Dorris, of Presidio and Pax Americana,  and Michael Riojas, formerly of Beaver's and Goode Co.

Tom N Tom's Coffee Bellaire, 9393 Bellaire Boulevard, opened early November. The global coffee chain began in South Korea in 2004 and has since grown to over 500 locations worldwide from China to Australia to the United States. The first U.S. location opened in 2010 and the Bellaire Food Street store is the first in Houston.

The shop sells a variety of coffee drinks including its TomNccinos, which come in flavors such as vanilla, mint, mocha and caramel. There are yogurt smoothies and tea drinks as well. A popular choice is the horchata latte.

There are a few snack options such as the caramel cinnamon bread, but the pretzels are the best selling munchies at Tom N Tom's.

click to enlarge These gorgeous tacos are vegan. - PHOTO BY DAVID VU.
These gorgeous tacos are vegan.
Photo by David Vu.
Cascabel, 1415 Murray Bay, softly opened November 16 in Spring Branch. After a couple of days of tweaking some things, it opened solidly for business November 19. The restaurant serves vegan Mexican favorites like tortilla soup, quesadillas and tacos. Diners can choose from three different proteins: chorizo (soy), al pastor (soy) and chipotle flavored jackfruit. There's even chile con queso made with potato-based cheese. And for dessert, there's a delicious vegan flan.

click to enlarge No animal products in this chile con queso, just potatoes. - PHOTO BY DAVID VU.
No animal products in this chile con queso, just potatoes.
Photo by David Vu.
Owner Crystle Austin began her full-on vegan lifestyle six years ago. Wanting more than fruit and salads, she set out to create a menu that is faithful to her Mexican roots with plant-based ingredients. Along with her business partner, Chef David Arreguin, the restaurant has a mission to create delicious cuisine without contributing to animal cruelty or harming the earth, while pioneering the way for a strong vegan lifestyle.

La Cruderia Michelada Bar, 8394 Bellaire Boulevard opened October 26. Here, guests can enjoy micheladas, tostadas and tacos de asada. There are some crazy options for topping your michelada from sweet to savory. Seafood items are a big part of the food menu, including an assortment of ceviche. It's a good spot to watch the game, enjoy some fresh seafood and drink an over-the-top michelada.

click to enlarge Do some spirited holiday shopping at Revival Market. - PHOTO BY JULIA WEBER
Do some spirited holiday shopping at Revival Market.
Photo by Julia Weber
Revival Market, 550 Heights, will host its first Holiday Market December 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be $2 hot chocolate and the full menu will be available. Wine and beer baskets will be available for purchase along with a variety of market vendors including Haiti Design Group, Genara, Birch and Goldberry, KD Weave and Flat Snake Grass.

Restaurants Reported Open for November 2019:

Big Z's Pizza House and Brew, 2004 S. Mason, opened October 19
California Baja Fusion, opened late October
Chef Kenny's Asian Vegan, 6128 Wilcrest, opened November 12
Creamistry, 130 Vintage Park Boulevard, opened October 28
District 7, 15375 Memorial, grand opening November 5
Guard and Grace, 500 Dallas, opened November 19
In-N-Out, 1010 Katy Fort Bend Road, opened November 22
In-N-Out, 12611 S. Kirkwood, opened November 22
Mendocino Farms, 609 Main, opened November 7
Merus Grill, 1180 Uptown Park Boulevard, opened November 18
Napoli's Wine Cafe, 4601 washington, opened October 24
Pinstripes Houston, 3300 Kirby, opened October 24
Politan Row, 2445 Times Boulevard, grand opening November 8
Roti Modern Mediterranean, 6602 Fannin, opened November 13
Summer Moon, 19901 Kingsland Boulevard opened November
Tonkatsu Ramen Shop, 10111 Louetta, opened November 2
Verbena Coffee, 14029 Memorial, opened October 29
Whiskey Cake, 12575 Southwest Freeway, opened November 11
Whole Foods Market, 515 Elgin, opened November 7

Restaurants Reported Closed for November 2019:

Decatur Bar and Pop Up Factory, 2310 Decatur, closed October 31
El Real, 1201 Westheimer, closed October 29
La Villa, 4315 Montrose, closed November 2
Steel City Pops, closed all three Houston stores, November 1
Westchase Tavern, 10630 Westheimer, closed October 31
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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.