Welcome to The Good Life

Photos by Minh T Truong
House pickles at The Good Life.
I'm not sure if co-owners Jeff and Darren Van Delden were inspired by Kanye West's song "Good Life" when they named their new Midtown bar, but I can't say the name of their spot without singing the hook and wanting to make it rain. If you have been to the Van Deldens' other properties, Saint Genevieve and Red Door, this image isn't far off, but where those bars are swanky and high maintenance, The Good Life - Midtown Bar and Kitchen is the more down-to-earth younger sibling.

Housed in the end of a strip mall on the corner of Smith and West Gray, the location was once longtime bar Deco Lounge before becoming another short-lived club. It's an ideal spot, in the heart of Midtown, in a walkable area of town among the young and ready-to-party. After Deco closed, I wondered what could take over and really work. I think The Good Life may be it.

As with their other properties, the Van Deldens have transformed the space with careful attention to detail. The interior has a speakeasy, Prohibition-era feel with two separate bars -- a smart use of space, as it breaks up the room and makes it feel larger. The small, open kitchen is a lovely touch and creates a brightness in the otherwise dimly lit space. The long communal tables in between the bars seem to be where many a conversation between strangers will take place. The front holds a patio area that looks sure to be a hot spot.

Edible cocktails.
The bar is focusing on craft cocktails and some unique signature items like foam champagne and edible cocktails (essentially "classed up" Jell-O shots). They are displayed in the case like small, delicate pastries. The bar offers flights ($20 for four) so you can try different flavors. The key lime and the sweet tea were my favorites.

The open kitchen previously mentioned is putting out bar bites and shareable plates from a menu that Roost chef Kevin Naderi consulted on. That's enough to pique anyone's interest in trying the fare. On my visit, I had the Korean chicken strips ($7), the brats in a blanket ($9) and the house pickles ($5). The battered and fried chicken strips are served with a Sriracha mayo. The strips were light despite being fried, but there wasn't much to make this Korean; a side of kimchi at least wouldn't have hurt.

The sausages fared far better. Garlic-infused brats were baked inside a flaky puff pastry and served with some truly addictive sweet and sour mustard. There was some debate in my group on the house pickles, however. Some of us loved the light, refreshing chile-sprinkled mango, jicama, watermelon and cucumbers, while others felt that calling the dish "pickles" on the menu was deceiving. The fruit wasn't really pickled, but just slightly acidic.

For those who used to frequent Deco Lounge, you'll see some familiar faces among the friendly bar staff. Happy hour runs until 8 p.m. on weekdays, with brunch served on Sundays. With new development like this, it looks like Midtown is back and maybe better than ever. Here's to The Good Life.

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Location Info

Saint Genevieve - CLOSED

2800 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Red Door

2416 Brazos, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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My Voice Nation Help

this place is overpriced and the whole flight of jello shots i had were awful and/or tasteless.  the cocktails were unique but not "craft" by any means.  overall another bar trying to jump on a trendy bandwagon and i don't see it lasting very long.  

Kylejack topcommenter

I will be interested to see if they use some nebulous dress code to enforce a racist door policy, as was done at their previous venture, Sawyer Park.

Kylejack topcommenter

@okdave When I went I had a gin drink with a lot of ice cubes that tasted fine, but balanced on top was a spoon of a honeycomb and some Cheerios. What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Mix the Cheerios in with the ice? Eat the honeycomb straight off the spoon? It was pretty to look at, but what an abomination to actually consume.

Kylejack topcommenter

@TedStickles When a publication lavishes praise on the owners of Red Door (another place with many allegations of racism at the door) for their swanky environs, yes, I'm going to say something. I would like to see the racists get out of my city, or at least stop owning businesses.

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