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The Soon-to-Open Menil Cafe Has a Name, and We're Underwhelmed

The publicity information for the "Menil Café Name Game" came with the following headline:

"What do you call a café housed in a Craftsman-era bungalow that's nestled in the green heart of Houston's Museum District and affords views of a renowned modern landmark?"

What indeed? That description of the upcoming cafe on the grounds of The Menil Collection sure makes it sound exciting, and we racked our brains to come up with our best, cleverest, most creative suggestions for a name worthy of the new eatery.

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We thought our names were pretty good (and yours were, too), but the Menil chose to go a different route and name the cafe...

Bistro Menil.

Huh? It took a competition to come up with that?

According to the announcement made on Wednesday morning, the museum received more than 450 entries, but the winning name was entered into the competition only once. It comes from Americo Nonini, a Houstonian who used to live in the neighborhood surrounding the Menil.

In a press release, he said he's honored, and the name is "my way of nodding to the French origins of the founders." Well, all right then.

The cafe Bistro Menil is aiming for a Labor Day opening at the hands of chef Greg Martin, formerly of Café Annie, Taco Milagro and Café Express.

"Bistro Menil will be a wonderful new amenity for museum-goers," Martin said in the press release, "a warm and welcoming neighborhood meeting place for the community, and destination restaurant to be enjoyed by all."

We're okay with the name, sure, but perhaps we're just a little bitter one of our suggestions didn't win. It's classy and whatnot, but, to our thinking, it doesn't seem to reflect the creativity and whimsy of the Menil itself. What do you think?

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