Bar Beat

Openings and Closings: Agricole's EaDo Trio Opens, Kitchen 713 Closes

The Green Machine at Vinny's  makes kale delectable.
The Green Machine at Vinny's makes kale delectable. Photo by Julie Soefer

Agricole Hospitality is bringing three new concepts to East Downtown. The buzz has been humming along since early 2017.  Each restaurant will be its own independent space, style and menu, but the three concepts are also a collaboration from co-owners Ryan Pera, Morgan Weber and Vincent Huynh, with executive chef Paul Lewis, to bring menus that reflect the evolution of American food and a strong attention to detail and hospitality.

While each concept will have specific drinks and cocktails tailored to the space, there will be a master list from beverage director, Marie Louise Friedland, formerly of State Bird and Provisions and The Progress. There will be high end Champagnes, Reislings and small production reds from the Southern hemisphere. The beer menu will feature various European styles such as Belgian, German and Bavarian, but also Texas craft breweries like 8th Wonder, Saint Arnold Brewing and Live Oak. Weber's extensive liquor collection will round out the beverage menu.

The stand alone concepts will offer patrons interchangeable options like ordering a slice of pizza from Vinny's while having cocktails at Miss Carousel. Diners enjoying a meal at Indianola can request cocktails from Miss Carousel.

If that has your head spinning a bit, here's a little more information about the openings of each restaurant in the next week.

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The Pimm's Salad balances out the pizza carbs.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Vinny's, 1201 St. Emanuel, opened October 31. The restaurant, named for Agricole's Vincent Huynh, will offer an interpretation of American pizza, using the same basic ingredients in the pizza dough as Agricole Hospitality's restaurant Coltivare, but with different proportions, resulting in a completely different style of pizza. The whole pies are square and average about 52 ounces. Most of the pizzas will use a combination of Wisconsin Brick and Parmesan cheeses, with others being topped with provolone and smoked cheddar. Wisconsin Brick is made from cheese curds pressed with clay-fired bricks, resulting in a softly-textured cheese that melts like mozzarella.

The cold-blended sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes and the chorizo and Italian sausage are made in house.  The creative pizzas have fun names like M.C. Ham'r'd with Benton Country Ham, and The Muscles from Brussels, made with brussel sprouts.

The restaurant offers fast counter-service where pizza can be ordered pie slice or whole. There is seating for 30 inside and 20 on the patio. There are salads, sandwiches and desserts as well.

According to its Facebook page, Vinny's opening day was so popular, it ran out of pizza dough and had to close before its midnight hour. The early bird gets the pizza.

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Indianola offers desserts like dark chocolate semi freddo.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Indianola, 1201 St. Emanuel, will open November 6, at 5 p.m. for dinner. The restaurant is named for the historic town on Matagorda Bay that once served a s a thriving port with many immigrants, primarily German, entering through this small town. Unfortunately, hurricanes contributed to its demise and many refer to it as a ghost town.

The partners at Agricole Hospitality each have different cultural and ancestral heritage that reflect the global make-up of the United States and the menu at Indianola is their interpretation of the subtle influences of international cuisines on the fabric of modern American food. Dinner could be Thai-inspired Som Tum salad, alongside Santa Maria steak with tomatillo escabeche, finished with Basque cheesecake for dessert. It's travel by table.

Pastry chef Natasha Douglas will use her experiences as an avid traveler to create the dessert menu at Indianola. She's also a Master Chocolatier, so expect some stunning chocolate treats like dark chocolate semi freddo.

Indianola will be open for dinner only for the next few weeks, with lunch being added within the month, followed by a breakfast service.

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Crispy duck wings will spice up your life.
Photo by Julie Soefer

Miss Carousel, 1201 St. Emanuel, is set to open November 8. The cocktail bar is named for a Townes Van Zandt song, "Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel." The new concept is a culmination of Morgan Weber's passion for cocktails and spirits and the beverage menu will be grouped by categories such as Collins & Swizzles, Highballs and Spirituous. Look for Weber's favorite category: Extremely Interesting, Non-Conforming. There will also be creative non-alcoholic cocktails.

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That's MISS Carousel to you.
Photo by Julie Soefer
The food menu will be small and precise with snacks like crispy duck wings or larger plates like a Wagyu burger. Boozy desserts add to the fun, including a Tiki Sundae made with coconut rum, cashew gelato, spiced pineapple and a rum caramel. In case you haven't heard, Tiki is all the rage right now. Along with cauliflower and brussels sprouts. 

The space will feature decor and furniture that Weber has been collecting for the past two years, with living room vignettes designed by Garza Marfa out of Marfa, Texas. There will be a two-sided fireplace and a secluded courtyard to add to the ambiance.

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Mai's brings French inspiration to its meat plate.
Photo courtesy of Mai's Baguettes
Mai's Baguettes, 10613 Bellaire Boulevard, celebrated its grand opening October 28. Owner Truong Le's new restaurant is in honor of Mai, the family matriarch. Her family once owned a small banh mi restaurant in Saigon in the 1990s.

Besides various banh mi, the restaurant offers French inspired pates and meats, including jambon and deboned stuffed chicken. On the beverage menu are several teas, Vietnamese mint coffee and sweetened corn milk.

From now until December 1, the restaurant will offer a buy four banh mi, get one free special.

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Get some wings in Spring!
Photo courtesy of Big City Wings

Big City Wings, 21322 Kuykendahl, opened October 12. This is the sixth location of the Houston-based wings restaurant and sports bar. There are 40 screens for watching sports and Big City Wings claims to be the OFFICIAL University of Houston viewing party destination. Not sure how one receives that designation, but we're pretty sure ice cold beers and a multitude of chicken wings figures into it somehow.

Besides wings, the restaurant serves up "Screw it, I am never going to lose this gut anyway" favorites like Dumpster Fries, a basket of waffle fries topped with pulled pork and barbecue sauce. For people like us who love chili and cheese on top of anything resembling a fried potato, the Tachos replaces nacho chips with tater tots. The list goes on for unhealthy bites that soak up beer, like jalapeno bombers and fried cheese blocks.

There are also burgers and sandwiches and yes, salads. We're pretty sure they aren't low-cal, but at least you get some enzymes from the lettuce and veggies to help move things along.

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Everybody's favorite number.
Photo courtesy of Big City Wings
There are also plenty of brews on tap, in bottle or by can, including the Big Brews, which come in at a whopping 34 ounces. The wing joint is family-friendly, so it's time to get Junior/Juniorette down to the DMV to get a driver's license. We're not advocating using your teen as a designated driver, but if you're going to drink a 34-ounce beer, you might need to have some transportation options.

The Spring location is celebrating with a grand opening party November 2. There will be food and drink specials, a magician and face painting.

A seventh location is expected to open in Kingwood in the winter.

Presidio is felled by a fire temporarily.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp
Presidio, 911 W. 11th, was damaged by fire October 27, as reported by Culturemap Houston. An electrical outlet by the front entrance is thought to be the culprit. Despite the damage, the kitchen is still intact, but repairs are being made to the roof, where firefighters cut through to get to the fire. More will be known about its reopening after the insurance adjuster makes a visit.

Meanwhile, Eight Row Flint is helping to raise funds for the hourly employees who are being affected by the temporary closure.

Good-bye perfect fry.
Photo by Daniel Kramer
Kitchen 713, 4601 Washington, closed October 28, according to CultureMap. The global soul food restaurant moved to its current location in December of 2016. Popular for its fried chicken and braised oxtails, it originally opened in 2014.

The restaurant also made Alison Cook's Top 100 Houston Restaurants for the Houston Chronicle in 2017 and 2018.

Citing burn out and a desire for change, chefs and co-owners James Haywood and Ross Colman plan on doing some travelling for inspiration and research into international cuisines, including possibly West Africa, so keep an eye out for future news coming from this duo.

Bud's Pitmaster BBQ, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas, closed October 25. The barbecue restaurant opened in the George R. Brown convention center in May of 2017, three months before Hurricane Harvey. Proprietor Theldon R. Branch III puts some of the blame on Harvey's aftermath, citing financial losses from a decline in business from nearby residents who were too economically strapped to dine out and too busy repairing their homes.

The restaurant will be giving food donations to The Bread of Life, Inc. and Impacting Houston.

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Keep it cool and old school at One Armed Scissor.
Photo courtesy of One Armed Scissor
One-Armed Scissor, 208 Travis, began a very soft opening on October 3, with a grand opening October 15.The bar, which originally was located adjacent to Hughies Heights, closed in March and has found its new home in the former space of Chupacabra.

As for the move from its symbiotic location with the fast casual Vietnamese restaurant, Hughies, owner Michael Molina told the Houston Press that there was no dramatic narrative to the amicable split, but "simply friends realizing that their paths were divergent, shaking hands and parting ways".

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One Armed Scissor wants to be your local.
Photo courtesy of One Armed Scissor
At OAS, one can be a classic cocktail dandy and go for a Moscow mule or an old-fashioned  or be a trendy Wendy and try the Thai Dolla Sign, with Citadelle gin, creme de cacao, lemon juice, simple syrup and a hint of Thai basil.

The bar sets its sights on being a comfortable neighborhood spot where "we serve cocktails without pretension and tallboys without irony", according to Molina.

Blanco Tacos + Tequila, 5115 Westheimer, has a target date of December 13, according to a spokesperson from Fox Restaurant Concepts.

B.B. Lemon, 1809 Washington Avenue, is set to open November 8. The newest restaurant from restaurateur Benjamin Berg will be a blending of Berg's two favorite cities, Houston and New York, with classic straight-forward food and cocktails in the spot which previously housed The Caddy Shack, across the street from Berg's B&B Butchers Restaurant.

Berg will have Eric Johnson as the head chef, according to the Houston Chronicle. Johnson is married to Lexey Davis, Berg Hospitality's head sommelier.

The menu will feature East Coast favorites like lobster rolls and New England clam chowder and Texas specialties like chili and beefy burgers.

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Tate Drennen creates cocktails behind a magical crystal bar.
Photo courtesy of Fiori Spa
Ivy Bar & Bistro, 2613 Potomac, opens November 2 as part of a 2.5 million-dollar expansion at Fiori Spa. Owner Roy Horlock opened the spa in 2005 and the new additions include the restaurant as well as a second swimming pool, new massage rooms and a roof-top sun deck.

The bistro and bar will serve Italian fare, including pizzas, soups, salads, paninis and cheese boards. On the beverage side will be a creative cocktail list from food and beverage manager, Tate Drennen, with drinks sporting names like Divine Goddess and French 43. There will also be a well-curated wine list and craft beers.

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Wile away an afternoon at Ivy Bar and Bistro's terrace.
Photo courtesy of Fiori Spa
The decor  has a European vibe with French-inspired furnishings and a stunning crystal bar top. There is also an outdoor terrace overlooking the spa's garden.

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Clams, lobster or scallops? It hurts to pick only one.
Photo courtesy of Maine-ly Sandwiches
Maine-ly Sandwiches, 7620 Katy Freeway, opened at the Marq'E Center March 18, after parking issues, rent increases and damage from Hurricane Harvey forced it to leave its Shepherd location. Besides offering its famous lobster rolls, fried clams (strips and whole belly) and homemade whoopie pies, it now offers scallop rolls as of October 24. Could be another mission for our sandwich connoisseur Jeff Balke.

Quick Eats, an online ordering platform for the Galleria Mall has been launched by Simon Property Group.Customers can order and pay for food from 18 dining establishments in the Galleria such as The Oceanaire and Peli Peli.

1308 El Tiempo Cantina,1308 Montrose, is closing for real on November 11. The landlord has served notice for the premises to be vacated by November 14. We've been reporting about its upcoming closure for awhile now, but the ax has landed for good. However, the folks on the north side are set to get an El
Tiempo off Highway 290 in mid-December.

Openings Reported For October 2018:

Banh Appetit, 11191 Westheimer, opened October 18
Bao Master, 23144 Cinco Ranch, opened September 22
Bisou, 4444 Westheimer, opened October 22
Buffalo Run, 440 Rayford, opened September 18
Chilosos Taco House, 10615 Fry, opened September 7
Chuy's, 20322 Tomball Parkway, opened October 16
Cultivated Food + Beverage, 701 Texas, opened October 15
Eunice, 3737 Buffalo Speedway, opened October 1
Falafel Ala Kaifak, 8999 Richmond, opened September 12
Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, 26806 FM 1093, opened October 9
Genesis Steakhouse and Wine Bar, new location opened October 8
Georgia James, 1100 Westheimer, opened October 11
The Halal Guys,6609 Main, grand opening September 24
Jus Grill, 5927 Almeda Road, opened September 22
Light Years Natural Wine Shop and Bar, 1304 W. Alabama, opened October 13
The Lost Cajun, 24110 Northwest Freeway, opened October 1
Neo Baguette, 201 East 20th, grand opening October 29
Oh My Gogi, 23119 Colonial Parkway, opened September 21
Ostioneria La Reyna, 6031 Highway 6 North, opened September 17
Pann Tea, 23119 Colonial Parkway, opened October
Raffa's Waterfront Grill,1660 West Lake Houston Parkway reopened October 21
The Roastery, 5106 Bissonet, opened October 17
Rooftop Cinema Club,1700 Post Oak, opened October 3
The Rustic, 1836 Polk, opened November 1
Shun Japanese Kitchen, 2802 S. Shepherd, opened October 16
SING, 718 West 18th, grand opening October 22
Spicy Chen, 12343 Barker Cypress, opened September 15
Sticky Rice Lao Cafe, 8220 Louetta, opened September 8
Tacos El Regios-El Coquis #3, 12555 Westheimer, opened September 15
TRIBUTE, 111 North Post Oak, opened October 26
Willie's Grill and Icehouse, 6815 N. Grand Parkway West, opened October 15
Zoe's Kitchen, 4505 Kingwood, grand opening September 27

Closings Reported For October 2018:
Cafe Express, 6570 Woodway, closed
The Cheese Bar, 9945 Barker Cypress, closed October 9
Gorgeous Gael,5555 Morningside, closed September 30
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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.