Houston Food News Bites: Holiday Kickoffs and Black Friday Freebies

Week of November 20, 2017

This week, we’re thankful for the great city of Houston with its richness of restaurants and food traditions. Since this week is all about last-minute Thanksgiving plans and preparations, our Houston restaurant news looks to Black Friday and beyond.

Recent Restaurant Closings

Liberty Kitchen—Garden Oaks, 3715 Alba: A representative says that this particular location has hard-hit by ongoing construction affecting accessibility as well as a downturn in business caused by Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath. The last day of business was Sunday, November 19. On the bright side, there are still three other locations diners can still visit: Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar in the Heights, Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette in River Oaks and Liberty Kitchen at the Treehouse in Memorial City. The employees are being relocated to the still-open restaurants. (For happier news related to the Liberty Kitchen family of restaurants, check out the Black Friday brunch detailed later in this article.)

Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill, 4747 Research Forest: The casual mini-chain shuttered its Woodlands location following last night’s dinner service. Owner Gary Adair said in a press release the company was choosing not to renew the lease on the space, which has housed Skeeter’s for the last 20 years. The company says it is transferring the employees to its other locations.

Dining room Union Kitchen Ella
The dining room of the newest Union Kitchen on Washington. Photo courtesy of Gr8 Plate Hospitality.

Recent Restaurant Openings

The Union Kitchen, 6011 Washington: The locally grown Houston chain opened its fifth location on Monday, November 20. The new restaurant joins the operation’s Memorial, Bellaire, Ella and Kingwood spots, serving up burgers, steaks, pasta and salads alongside approachable beers and wines.

Upcoming Restaurant Closing

Le Peep, 4702 Westheimer: Breakfast favorite Le Peep is closing the doors of its longtime location by Hotel Derek—only to move down the street to the Westheimer Oaks development. The new restaurant at 4340 Westheimer is slated to start serving at the end of November. The new digs that will be about the same size as its predecessor (4,100 square feet, with space for 140 tables). New for the concept is an alcoholic beverage list that includes Bloody Marys, mimosas, Bellinis, local craft beers and wines. All are geared to compliment Le Peep’s familiar breakfast and lunch menus.

Buy a Bento Box, Help Harvey Relief Efforts

Kata Robata, 3600 Kirby: The Upper Kirby restaurant has teamed up with Japan Society Houston on a program called Washoku for Harvey Relief. Washoku translates to “food of Japan,” and Kata Robata is offering a 12-item Bento box that includes sashimi, tempura, miso gindara (miso-marinated black cod), chikuzenni (braised chicken and vegetables), grilled Kobe beef, miso dengaku (broiled eggplant with miso glaze), tamagoyaki (rolled omelette), miso soup and steamed rice. It retails for $58 and 10-percent of the sale of each box sold through November 30 will go to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, funneled through several approved Houston charities including Houston Food Bank, Memorial Assistance Ministry and Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center.

scallop carpaccio at Toulouse
Scallop Carpaccio, a dish on the happy hour menu at Toulouse. Photo by Bonner Rhoden.

New Happy Hour Menu in Town

Toulouse, 4444 Westheimer: New happy hour and after-dinner drinks are on the menu at this French eatery in the upscale River Oaks District shopping center. The happy hour menu is served Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. (but only in the bar). We were invited to try the new items. For $7 each, options like salmon gravlax and scallop carpaccio with pesto, aged balsamic, and red pepper flakes make for a particularly good deal on light bites in a season of rich foods. New after-dinner drinks from beverage director John Michael O’Shea—like the Café Royale, made with coffee, cognac and cream—make excellent nightcaps along the promenade that recalls a cozy Parisian bistro.

Morning After Cure

Liberty Kitchen Oyster Bar, 1050 Studewood; Liberty Kitchen and Oysterette 4224 San Felipe: If overindulging on Thanksgiving got the better of you, Liberty Kitchen is offering a great antidote: brunch. The Southern comfort food restaurants are serving Friday brunch on November 24 (and they’ll do an encore on December 26 and January 1), featuring red velvet waffles and Dixie fried chicken, pork belly carnitas Benedict, Placerville fry omelets and white chocolate raspberry bread pudding. Hours vary by location. For a little Black Friday bonus, drop into any Liberty Kitchen location after – or before – your shopping madness and get a free order of the restaurant’s delightful deviled eggs with the purchase of brunch or lunch entrée.

Upcoming Events

November 21
Four Seasons Houston, 1300 Lamar: Kick off the holiday season with a tree-lighting ceremony from 5 to 6 p.m., complete with live entertainment, champagne, hot cocoa and holiday cookies. The event and valet parking are complimentary. (The tree lighting is at 5:45 p.m.)

brewmasters brewhaha
Over 400 beers will be availble at the BrewHaHa Grand Tasting. Photo by Steven David.

November 24-26
Brewmaster’s Craft Beer Festival, Moody Gardens: From the Friday Night Pub Crawl to the “Nach-Yo Ordinary Tequila” Tasting, this annual celebration of craft libations is one of the top three in the country by USA Today. The festival spans three days, with many opportunities to sample hundreds of craft brews and spirits. There’s barbecue, too. Get all the details from our in-depth article.

November 26
Central Market Houston, 3815 Westheimer: The Bollywood Kitchen is a cookbook signing and demonstration wrapped up in an Indian dance party. Director and writer Sri Rao is signing his book, Bollywood Kitchen: Home Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films. The event includes sample dishes from the book like Sri’s Signature Chicken Curry, bagara annam (cashew fried rice), mango cheesecake and Nimbu Paani, a sweet and salty lemon-lime spritzer. Bonus: Bollywood dancers will perform. The cost is $65; pre-registration is required.

December 5, 9 and 16
Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen, 1140 Eldridge Parkway: In the Tamales 101: The Ancient Art of Tamales class, attendees will tackle the whole process of making pork and chicken tamales, right down to wrapping them in corn husks and steaming them. The three-hour class concludes with everyone sitting down to eat. The cost is $64 per person. Register online.

Looking Ahead

January 29
The Truffle Masters 2018, The Astorian, 2500 Summer: DR Delicacy and Silver Stone Events present the fourth year of this luxurious annual culinary competition. Houston chefs will battle to come up with the most delectable, mouthwatering dish using DR Delicacy’s aromatic, fresh and flavorful truffles. The winner takes home 500 grams of highly prized black truffles and a trophy. Proceeds from the event benefit Casa de Esperanza de Los Ninos—House of Hope for Children in Houston. Space is limited to 500 guests. General admission costs $175 and VIP tickets are $275. Purchase tickets in advance online.

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