Acclaimed Rancher and Restaurateur Launches New Houston Restaurant in Garden Oaks
Felix Florez has borne many titles in his life: rancher, butcher, sommelier, chef. Now, he can add brick-and-mortar restaurateur to his résumé. Cherry Block Smokehouse, in Garden Oak’s Stomping Grounds at 1227 West 34th, is now open. The development is also home to Fat Cat Creamery and Little Dreamer Coffee.
The new counter-service eatery gives Florez space to refine ideas developed at the now-closed Cherry Block Craft Butcher + Kitchen, which was located in downtown’s Bravery Chef Hall. These include Southern Smokehouse Burger (a smoked burger with a pimento cheese fried green tomato and Alabama white barbecue sauce), Cherry Block (CB) Burger, with its custom beef blend and umami-rich, red wine demi-glace, and gumbo + deviled potatoes with smoked ham hock and andouille.
Dishes feature products from Florez’s Falcon Lake Farms, a company that raises and distributes humanely raised Texas meat. Butchering is done at Cherry Block Market, his Texas-focused grocery and butcher shop in Katy. By cutting out the middleman, Florez hopes to make high-quality, Southern-steakhouse fare more affordable.
To translate his integrated “Texans-for-Texans” vision to the table, Florez teamed up with executive chef Jordan Economy (Dak & Bop, Salt & Time, Doris Metropolitan and Prohibition Supper Club) and chef de cuisine Mellissa Hart (Common Bond Brasserie and Bistro and Chopin Mon Ami Catering in Galveston). The trio will, of course, serve steaks, such as a center-cut 10-ounce ribeye, but also meats smoked in a custom-fabricated, 14-foot steel smoker. This includes brisket, used in dishes like loaded mac and cheese, and smoked jumbo franks. The approachable dishes add to Stomping Grounds’ and Cherry Block Smokehouse’s family-friendly nature, as does a selection of burgers, po’boys and other sandwiches.
Though a full bar menu wasn’t available at press time, Florez is employing his 25-years of experience as a sommelier (including at Brennan’s of Houston) to develop signature cocktails and a focused list of wines and local beers.
Gin Design Group (Daily Gather, Eunice, Camerata) crafted the interior of the 2,600-square foot restaurant. The warm space features a red brick bar, dark wood accents and a long feature wall displaying a collection of Florez’s family photo and heirlooms, such as pitchforks, cowboy hats and china plates. There is a small market showcasing products from Texas and a butcher’s room behind glass, where guests can watch a butcher at work and make their own meat selection.
As the weather cools, patrons can also enjoy the small covered patio lined with picnic tables that overlooks a well-manicured courtyard, which is shared by Fat Cat and Little Dreamer. Eventually, it will also be shared by Blood Bros. forthcoming, all-day eatery LuLoo’s Day & Night, which they are opening with chef Alyssa Dole. The Stomping Grounds is quickly becoming a dining destination, not just for its Garden Oaks neighbors, but the entire city.
Cherry Block is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is planned to kick off this fall. A grand opening is planned for September 20 at 11 a.m.