What The Fork? Happy Hours, Mardi Gras Madness And Valentine’s In Houston
This week is a busy one for diners. First up is Fat Tuesday, the last Mardi Gras celebration before Lent. Shameless eating and revelry are not only expected, but encouraged. That’s followed by Valentine’s Day on Wednesday. Our list of fun and romantic Valentine’s Day dinners can help Houstonians still trying to figure out where to go.
A week of foodie holidays might help take the sting off saying goodbye to a 20-year old Houston restaurant that closed its doors. In addition, a hotly anticipated bar-and-bites spots opens, a deli reaches a milestone and if Cherry Chocolate Pie Pancakes sounds like something you need, we tell you where to find them.
Really, who doesn’t need Cherry Chocolate Pie Pancakes?
Arcodoro, 5000 Westheimer: CultureMap reported on Thursday that the Sardinian mainstay has shuttered. Owners Lori and Efisio Farris said in a statement the decision to close after 20-plus years was “difficult.”
Night Heron, 1601 West Main: Agricole Hospitality (owned by chef Ryan Pera and partners Morgan Weber and Vincent Huynh) debuted the new Montrose concept last week that replaces Lowbrow. The food offerings lean towards Caribbean and Southeast Asian, with items such as smoked cheese dip, chicken mousse with strawberry jam and sourdough, Shrimp Caesar Salad and Jasmine rice congee with local mushrooms, almonds, bacon and a poached egg. The cocktail list is heavy on the classics with selections such as the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Tom Collins and an upscale Salty Dog with honeysuckle, grapefruit, black pepper, vanilla and Himalayan pink salt.
Did Montrose need another watering hole? Who cares? Didn’t you read that cocktail list?
New Boss on the Block
BCK: Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures, 933 Studewood: Bosscat Kitchen + Libations launched a two-week long soft opening phase in the Heights on February 7. Expect the menu to change frequently during that period as co-owner John Reed and his team find their groove. Offerings include riffs on childhood faves like Sweet & Sour Meatballs, a favorite of Reed’s growing up in upstate New York, and “Pasghettio’s” with 44 Farms beef sausage. The cocktail list has the same take but is definitely not for kids. That includes Dr Feelgood, a rye whiskey concoction served in a Dr Pepper can with crushed ice and the First Crush featuring Jim Beam Vanilla, Orange Crush soda and cream.
Ford Fry, the nationally known chef-owner behind State of Grace in River Oaks, has decided the name for the “annex” to forthcoming Tex-Mex restaurant Superica that’s taking over the former Hunky Dory space in the Heights. (The nationally known chef first let us in on that idea in an August 2017 interview.) The spot taking over the old Bernadine’s space next door is being named La Lucha. It’s conceived as a neighborhood bar, lounge and Gulf Coast-centric eatery that pays homage to the old San Jacinto Inn. Look for dishes like shrimp, biscuits and fried chicken on the menu.
MAD, 4444 Westheimer: Eater Houston reports the team behind BCN Taste and Tradition is opening a new restaurant before the end of the year. BCN is named for the Barcelona airport code, so along those lines, MAD is named for the Madrid one. The menu features traditional and reimagined pinxtos. That’s Spanish for finger foods and small plates. The main difference between pinxtos and tapas is that the former usually has toppings anchored to bread with toothpicks.
If you’d like to drive yourself MAD, read up on the (lack of) differences between tapas, pinxtos and pinchos.
Brennan’s Happy Hour is Back
Brennan’s of Houston, 3300 Smith: Brennan’s Court Yard bar took a break from happy hour for the holidays, but now the popular 7-7-7 menu is back: seven items, seven days a week, for seven bucks. In addition to an array of cocktails and wine for $7, the menu includes Duck Chili Nachos, Hot-Hot Chicken Sliders, Holy Trinity Crudo, crab and artichoke dip, a meat & cheese board, fried boudin balls, and Jimmy’s Wood Grilled Oysters. Selections are available daily between 2 and 7 p.m.
Don’t worry, big spenders: the signature Blue Crab & Caviar Nachos are still available for $100.
Kiran’s 2525 Richmond: Speaking of happy hours, Kiran’s after-work game got a revamp. Bar team Gregg Alston and Mark Kirchner have rolled out an all-new menu of cocktails, spirit flights and bar bites. Offerings include a Gran Classico Negroni of Tempos Fugit Gran Classico, aviation gin and Aya dry vermouth; a Sazerac Smash with Sazerac rye, mint and lemon; and gin, tequila and scotch flights. On the food side is Crispy Kale and Spinach Chaat with tamarind, mint and yogurt and Barbecue Lamb Ribs, a throwback to the time when chef Kiran Verma ran a barbecue joint.
Sweet Paris, 2420 Rice and 797 Sorella Court: Two crepes and two glasses of Champagne for $20 is the special this week at the casual French spot. It’s available between February 12 and 15.
So, this week you can literally get away with a beer budget and Champagne tastes.
Matzo Ball Mazel Tov
When the Strauss family went out to lunch at Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Restaurant in West University on February 9, two-year-old Leo wanted matzo ball soup. Turns out that soup came with a lot of fanfare — Leo has ordered the New York-style deli’s two millionth matzo ball. Deliman, owner and chef Ziggy Gruber had been keeping track of how many balls were sold, and planned a celebration for the Big Two Million, complete with horns and confetti, an idea jettisoned given Leo’s young age. He did get a $100 gift card and a T-shirt reading “My Matzo Balls Are Bigger Than Yours.”
The kid should fit into that shirt in about 15 years.
Dinner and a Show
Tony Mandola’s Gulf Coast Kitchen, 1212 Waugh: This longtime favorite partnered with Stages Repertory Theatre to offer a three-course, pre-show dinner between February 15 and April 7. Prior to seeing Ann or We Are Proud, theatergoers can choose an appetizer, entree and dessert from the $40 set menu. The current one features includes Mama’s Gumbo, rainbow trout almondine, salmon with jumbo crab and banana key lime pie. To purchase Stages Patron Services Center at (713)-527-0123 and the box office will make your reservation.
Mardi Gras Party at Brennan’s of Houston, 3300 Smith: The Midtown favorite is hosting what it calls the biggest Mardi Gras celebration outside of New Orleans, complete with beads, palm readings, jazz and Big Easy comfort food. The three-course menu features crawfish tortilla soup, shrimp and grits and beignets and King Cake, natch. The cost is $65 per person and reservations may be made by calling (713) 522-9711.
National Pancake Day at Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, 3217 Montrose and 718 West 18th: February 13 is Mardi Gras, but it’s also National Pancake Day. Snooze has several sweet and savory options for celebrating. Consider the Chocolate Cherry Pie Pancake or the Just in Queso, a cornmeal pancake with roasted corn inside and topped with queso. And for those who need a Mardi Gras fix, check out the King Cake, Snooze’s signature buttermilk pancake topped with lemon curd, blueberry mascarpone and toasted coconut.
Little Woodrow’s, 2306 Brazos: The Midtown gathering place hosts its annual Gumbo Cookoff. The 21 and over event kicks off at 11 a.m. and lasts until 7 p.m. If you think you have the stuff to compete, sign up at or email the bar to submit your recipe. The event is free, excluding food and drink purchases.
Hope Farms HTX, 10401 Scott: Check out what the local grower is doing for Recipe for Success with this farm tour. Guests can purchase items from the farm stand and will gather afterward at Bistro Menil, 1513 W. Alabama for lunch. The event kicks off at 10:30 a.m.
Bravery Cherry Block Pop-Up, 409 Travis: Aris Tower hosts this sneak peek of the latest concept that’s been announced for Bravery Chef Hall. Felix Flores of Ritual and Black Hill Meats is involved with the restaurant, which puts emphasis on local ranchers and careful butchery. Tickets are $83.98 person and can be reserved online.