First Bite: New Restaurant Night Heron In Houston’s Montrose District Soars
Every neighborhood needs a great neighborhood spot. Earlier this month, Agricole Hospitality set out to do just that by opening Night Heron in the old Lowbrow space in Montrose at 1601 West Main. The principals are James Beard Award-nominated chef-owner Ryan Pera, executive chef Jacob Pate and business partners Morgan Weber and Vincent Huynh. For the bar program, they tapped another Coltivare alumni, general manager Julie Rogers, who is one of Houston’s few certified cicerones, the beer version of a being a certified sommelier.
Named for the night herons that reside in the oak trees along North and South Boulevards, the restaurant features an approachable atmosphere and a menu that focuses on small and shareable plates. It’s open for dinner and, as of this past weekend, brunch.
Previous visitors to Lowbrow will notice Night Heron’s redesigned interior. The minimalist space is lighter, brighter and more open. Tables are surrounded by banquet seating adorned with delicate light fixtures and books along the ceiling. The bar is still all the way to the left of the entrance, but now has high top table seating and two lounge areas with leather couches and armchairs.
So whats on the menu? The food is as pleasantly eclectic as the team behind it. The lighter, appetizer-focused part of the menu includes marinated olives and chicken mousse. The olives are simple yet the flavor is zippy. Castellano Olives are soaked in a blend of spices and zest that delivers a kick without knocking the taste buds too far out. At only $4, it’s a good size to snack on. The $7 Chicken Mousse is exceptionally decadent and balances the rich flavor of the mousse with the tart sweetness of a strawberry jam topping. There initially wasn’t enough toasted sourdough to go with it but diners can request and receive more at no additional cost.
Next up was the Fried Curry-Spiced Potatoes, which are available as a standalone dish for $5 and as a side with the Smoked 44 Farms Cheddar Burger. While most everyone loves good fried potatoes, these were something special: perfectly crisp on the outside while still tender on the inside and tossed in a light massaman curry. House ketchup comes alongside.
Another unique item on the menu is the $12 Jasmine Rice Congee, a rice porridge dish popular in Asia. Night Heron’s take on it includes sautéed local mushrooms, spiced almonds, bacon, scallions and a poached egg. This is a beautifully prepared dish with nuanced flavors, but has more of a brunch feel to it than dinner. That’s especially true when accompanied by some of the bar’s specialty dinner cocktails like The Manhattan Project (bourbon, madeira, orange, amaro ) and Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail (also bourbon, but with piñon, dark sugar, aromatic bitters, citrus peel, cherry).
Speaking of cocktails, here’s a pro tip: If there’s a spirit you really like, feel free to ask for something off-menu, like a Whiskey Sour. Cocktails prices range from $9 to $12 each. Night Heron also offers two dessert cocktails, the Frozen Cafe Sua Da and Grasshopper, both for $9.
For a heartier dish, the $16 Salt & Pepper Pork Ribs with sumac and lemon are a must. The decently sized ribs come four to an order and are tender on the bone with just the right combination of seasonings. A homemade sweet and sour dipping sauce served alongside is so perfectly tangy and sweet that Night Heron should bottle it for sale.
The verdict? So far the gang at Night Heron is knocking it out of the neighborhood park. We’ll be back.
Night Heron, 1601 West Main: Open weekdays from 2 p.m. to midnight, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. Happy hour is Mondays through Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.