Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Montrose Cheese and Wine Opens, Oporto Greenway Closes

Montrose Wine and Cheese is ready for sippers and nibblers.
Montrose Wine and Cheese is ready for sippers and nibblers. Photo by Julie Soefer
Montrose Cheese and Wine, 1618 Westheimer, opened August 14. This is the first of the three concepts from Goodnight Hospitality that will open in the complex, next to Goodnight Charlie's.

The new build has a quaint European look to it, with its white brick and copper awnings, perfect for a wine and cheese venue and the upcoming, Rosie Cannonball, a European-style cafe that is expected to open at the end of August.  March is expected to open later this year.

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There's no signage, but Montrose Wine and Cheese is Open.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
MW&C takes its inspiration from traditional salumerie. The design of the petite space (800 square feet) was done by Studio Robert McKinley using elements like terrazzo, plaster walls, oiled white oak shelving and a Griotte marble mix and custom metalwork. There's a spiral staircase connecting the wine cellar and the bar, which has ten seats for patrons who wish to enjoy their wine and cheese on the premises. There is also a shaded courtyard off the wine bar for lingering with a coffee or glass of wine.

The shop will feature Shannon McCracken as cheesemonger and general manager. The focus will be on small producers, with rotating cheese selections according to seasonality and availability. Ryan Cooper is the wine director and his selection of 125 wines will highlight organic, biodynamic and natural wines from all over the world. Cooper has put the focus on wines that "overdeliver" for the price point and there will be a strong selection of bottles for under $40.

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Shawn Gawle's pastries will be on offer.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Pastry director, Shawn Gawle will be keeping the pastry case well-stocked with an ever-changing selection, including the pastel de nata, or Portuguese egg tarts. Greenway Coffee has developed a proprietary blend of beans that will be used for the drip coffee and espresso drinks available at the shop.

There are retail  food and wine gifts from Biscuit Home, plus dried pastas from Italy, vinegars, oils and jams to take home and create an awesome wine and cheese tasting of your own. Or you could let the experts create a cheese and charcuterie board to enjoy at the bar or in the courtyard.

Oporto Cafe, 3833 Richmond closed, closed July 27. The Greenway Plaza cafe opened in 2006 and was the predecessor of Rick Di Virgilio's later restaurant, Oporto Fooding House and Wine at 125 W. Gray, which opened in 2015. Di Virgilio and his wife Chef Shiva Patel also owned and operated the Queen Vic Pub and Kitchen which closed in July 2018 after eight years. Oporto Fooding will remain open and Di Virgilio has already moved some staff from the Greenway Plaza location to the Midtown restaurant.

We reached out to Di Virgilio who assured us that the closing of the Greenway Plaza cafe in no way affects Oporto Fooding, which is where he is based and spends much of his time. He made the decision not to renew his lease with Greenway Co. but says he has another project in the works. Di Virgilio told the Houston Press:
" We have many great memories personally as well as with our Greenway neighbors and regulars. We had an amazing 13-year-run and am thankful to all the support over the years. That little wine cafe did great things!"
Loyal patrons will still have Oporto Fooding for Portuguese petiscos. Its Houston Restaurant Weeks menu is a good way to get a sample.

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Get your grub on, Katy!
Photo by Katie Littler/Light and Matter Photography

Grub Kitchen + Bar, 19143 Katy Freeway, opened August 6. This is the second location off Katy Freeway for the chain. There is a Grub Burger Bar in The Woodlands as well. The fast casual burger restaurant that was founded in 2012 in College Station by Texas A&M alumnus, Jimmy Loup. Grub is an acronym for Good people, Real food, Unique vibe, Big flavors. Or as we like to say, another word for something to eat.

There are plenty of different burgers from which to choose. Burger buffs can keep it classic with the Front Porch or branch out with the Texas Luau, a burger topped with pulled pork, grilled pineapple, jalapenos, teriyaki and barbecue sauces. There's a salmon option, turkey burger and Beyond Meat for vegetarians. For cluckers, there's chicken fried or grilled. The sweet potato fries are a must, but diners can get the Split Decision as a side, which includes half sweet potato waffle fries and half shoestring french fries. There are plenty vegetable offerings including brussels sprouts and entree salads.

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Keep it classic with the Front Porch burger at Grub.
Photo by Kelly Harrison/ Bit Plate Productions
Grub emphasizes its freshly baked buns, house-made sauces and dressings and 100 percent fresh ground beef.  It also strives to accommodate persons with allergies and food sensitivities.

Cocktails, beer and wine are available, as well as hand-crafted shakes. For the kiddos, there's an inexpensive kids menu, plus shake choices like the E.T. which, if your tot does not have nut allergies, is loaded with peanut butter flavor, including, of course, Reese's Pieces. For adults, there's the E.T. Drunk Dial, the same over-the -top peanut butter explosion with the addition of chocolate vodka.

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Akashi expands to Vintage Park.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Akashi Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar, 20326 State Highway 249, opened early August. The new Vintage Park location is the tenth in the Greater Houston area for the family-owned company. There are two more locations planned for Magnolia, Texas and Rosenberg Town Center.

The Asian-fusion restaurant has an extensive menu ranging from Chinese favorites like lo mein and fried rice to Japanese entrees like katsudon (chicken cutlet) or unagidon (barbecued river eel). There's a wide variety of maki, hand rolls, sashimi and nigiri. There's even a Lady Gaga roll. You know you're a star when you get a sushi roll named after you.

Diners can begin with starters such as the Pu Pu platter for two ($13.20) and typical apps like egg rolls, dumplings and edamame. We think the baked seafood avocado or the eggplant in spicy garlic sauce sounds tasty.

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The dramatic sushi bar at Akashi.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

The interior is dramatic and guests who look upward can admire the stunning decor and fixtures overhead. Besides the large food menu, there's a variety of cocktails and a decently priced wine list. The beer offerings aren't as extensive, but you can get a Lucky Buddha for $4. There is also an array of different sake on offer, hot or cold, with a number of available flavors.

Pearls Oyster Bar N Grill, 9395 Richmond, opened August 8. The Asian fusion eatery offers oysters in a variety of preparations. There are raw, fried, grilled and dressed oysters available, with a flight of 15 if you want to sample them all.

There are fried and grilled seafood options, plus wings, chicken tenders and a kids menu. Starters include mussels, shrimp croutons, ceviche and avocado fries.

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Find your muse at Warehouse 72.
Photo by Charlie Horse Photography

Warehouse 72, 7620 Katy Freeway, is hosting a grand opening weekend from August 23 through August 25. Friday night, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the new restaurant will feature Madeline Edwards on the Steinway Spirio, a gorgeous, high-tech baby grand. On Saturday and Sunday,from noon to 3 p.m., guests can visit with the artist, Sebastein " Mr.D 1987" Boileau and his "muses" or models for the mural which adorn the brick walls. There will be giveaways such as T-shirts, tote bags and bandanas while supplies last. Charlie Perez and friends will provide the music. On Sunday, magician Michael Blanco will be on hand from noon to 3 p.m.

The restaurant opened August 1. Part of the Spaghetti Warehouse family, it is celebrating its grand opening at the Marq-E Entertainment Center on the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Harvey which caused catastrophic flooding, resulting in the abandonment of the historic structure, located at 901 Commerce,  where Spaghetti Warehouse had operated since 1973. The new iteration is nothing like the old Spaghetti Warehouse, so don't go expecting mile-high lasagna. Instead, indulge in a more elevated Italian and Mediterranean menu from Chef Jaime Salazar.

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Runners, cyclists and golfers can cool off at Memorial Trail Ice House.
Rendering by Method Architecture

Memorial Trail Ice House, 6202 Washington, has reached its targeted goal of $200,000 within seven hours of launching its investment campaign on NextSeed. It also has nearly $1.5 million in investments from the Houston business community. Co-founder John Shaeffer and the Memorial team have chosen to site it in the historic Jeurgen family's general store building, which opened in 1932, eight years after Memorial Park was established. Shaeffer said in a press release, " We envision Memorial Trail Ice House becoming the social extension of Memorial Park. A community watering hole, located in an historic building with a story nearly as old as the park itself."

The team has also hired food and beverage consultants, Ladies of Libation LLC, to direct bar operations. There will be rotating food trucks for dining options.

Memorial Park receives over 4 million visitors each year. Now, they will have a place to quench their thirst. Or at least for those 21 and over.
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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.