Openings & Closings: Is the Old Stella Sola Location Cursed?

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Troy Fields
At the rate things are going, Stella Sola may be the last restaurant name to grace the building at 1001 Studewood.

Will there ever be a restaurant at 1001 Studewood Street again? The building, which was originally constructed to house Robert Gadsby's Bedford in 2008, has sat vacant since subsequent tenant Stella Sola closed in May 2012. There were plans for a while for it to be a second Killen's Steakhouse location, but negotiations fell through. Now, Eater Houston is reporting that the folks behind Yucatan Taco Stand have changed their minds about using that space as well. Perhaps it's time to just rethink that building and start over?

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Doc's Motorworks Westheimer Offers Quality Bar Food and Drink in a Unique Venue

Photo by Kelli Durham
The outside of Doc's Motorworks Westheimer. This shot covers less than half of the spacious patio.
Doc's, a small chain started in Austin with three locations, has expanded to Houston. Last night, there was a soft opening at Doc's Motorworks Westheimer with food, drinks and a staff ready to answer questions about their new restaurant.

The decor was labeled as a "DYI" aesthetic: Much of the bar's inside is decorated in wood and tin; at least some of the wood, repurposed from an old barn. Some of the tables and seating in one section were handmade, the seats designed from old oil barrels, and the tables from spindles. It's a neat twist on the more wood-and-metal, industrial-throwback aesthetic seen in other relatively new bars and coffeehouses around town.

The seating available at the location that was formerly home to a Wendy's is surprisingly large. It's aided by a deceptively large patio that wraps around three (well, more like two and a half) sides of the bar. When the weather permits, the large glass doors can open to let fresh air in, similar to how the "indoor" space opens directly to the outside at, say, Cottonwood. Eventually, they'll be offering more bar games, such as shuffleboard and a life-size Connect Four.

For sports fans, televisions are plentiful and the sound system is set up in a way that different sections of the bar are supposed to be able to have sound from different games.

Of course, decor is nice, but it means little if the food and drink isn't of a piece. And Doc's is impressive in that regard, not only for the sheer variety of the options, but for their quality.

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Kipper Club Test Kitchen To Host Forbes Five-Star Chef Zachary Ladwig

Photos by Mai Pham
From left, clockwise: Chef Zachary Ladwig will guest chef at Kipper Club this Friday; beet salad; a study on fennel.
It's early days still in the life of the Kipper Club Test Kitchen. The kitchen space by the Treadsack Group (Down House, D&T Drive Inn, Sugar & Rice Magazine) launched quietly in August, where it has been playing host to a rotating roster of guest chefs.

"We built it as a space that the chefs could work in while they wait for construction to be completed on Hunky Dory and Foreign Correspondents," says Graham Laborde, Kipper Club Test Kitchen's director, who is also a trained chef. "We also wanted it to be a creative space, where we could bring in younger chefs and chefs we really admire, and give them free reign do the food however they want to do it."

Since August, Kipper Club has hosted six pop-up dinners. "The response has been extremely positive," says Laborde, who adds "We already have regulars who sign up for every event." This past weekend they hosted a dinner called the "Contenders Series," which featured Bobby Matos (Ciao Bello), Patrick Feges (Killen's BBQ), and Erin Smith (Main Kitchen).

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Say Good-bye to Hollywood Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant in Houston

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Jeff Balke
Where will Houstonians go to sober up now?

Let's face it: People don't go to Hollywood Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant because it's serving the best examples of either cuisine. In fact, the place got written up and temporarily shut down by health inspectors this past August, as reported by KPRC Channel 2 .

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Openings & Closings: Only Two Weeks Left For Houston's Most Dog-Friendly Bar

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Angelica Leicht
Dog park lovers and rescue organizations alike are going to mourn the loss of Boneyard Drinkery. Enjoy it while it lasts.
There's awful news for Houston dog owners. As initially noted by Syd Kearney at the Houston Chronicle, pup-friendly bar Boneyard Drinkery announced on its Facebook page that it is closing on November 30. It was Houston's first combination bar and dog park. It's another sad chapter in a story we're hearing far too often these days: bars and restaurants closing due to owners selling the land to capitalize on higher property values.

Boneyard is not expecting to reopen, saying "Due to the size of property needed for this concept, and the outrageous increase of property value in Houston over the last few years, we will not be relocating."

They're doing good deeds until the very end. There's one last Boneyard Bash scheduled for November 16 from 1 to 7 p.m. It's the 25th and final fundraiser event for animal rescue organizations. The beneficiary will be Great Dane Rescue of Southeast Texas. Microchipping services will be available on-site and there will be vendors, a food truck and a raffle. Bring your furry friend for one last romp in the play yard.

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First Look at Radio Milano, a New Italian Concept Inside the Hotel Sorella at CityCentre

Photo by Mai Pham
Jose Hernandez (right) is executive chef at the new Italan concept, Radio Milano, at Hotel Sorella in CityCentre.
Just barely two weeks old, Radio Milano, the new new Italian concept taking over the spot that used to house Bistro Alex in the Hotel Sorella at CityCentre, is giving established Italian restaurants in Houston a run for their money.

A lot of it has to do with the restaurant's executive chef, Jose Hernandez. A pastry chef by training, Hernandez is known among foodie circles for his incredible pastries. Cutting his teeth in Mexico City under Viennese master Olivier Lombard at the Hotel Presidente Intercontinental in Mexico City, he moved to New York, where he got his first job under Philippe Schmit. When Schmit moved to Houston to open Bistro Moderne at the Hotel Derek, Hernandez moved with him as pastry chef. His career took him back to Manhattan to work at the one-star Michelin Fiamma under Fabio Trabochhi and the iconic Four Seasons Restaurant, before returning to Houston to head the pastry program of Philippe Restaurant + Lounge.

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Picos Reveals Its New Logo and Plans for a Holiday Tamale Stand

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Phaedra Cook
Pico's big new sign makes it much easier to find the restaurant on Kirby Drive now.

It's about to get easier than ever to pick up tamales from Picos for the holidays.

The news came during the rollout celebration of a bigger, bolder Picos logo yesterday. The tamale stand will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on November 28-30, the weekends of December 6 and 13 and then again from December 20-24. It will be set up in the parking lot, so it will be easy for guests to phone in their order, roll in, get tamales by the dozen and then head off to their holiday gatherings. The number to call and place orders is 832-831-9940.

It's going to be easier to find the place now, too. The new sign, sporting a burgundy background, an agave plant and the restaurant name in a bold, rustic font, replaces the old white one at Kirby at Richmond Avenue. While undoubtedly some of us will be nostalgic for the old toucan logo, an eye-catching change is likely a good move. Kirby Drive has not exactly been kind to restaurants over the past year.

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Triniti Offers Us Sanctuari -- and Great Cocktails

Photo by Christina Uticone
Bitter, Brown, & Stirred on the left; Debutante on the right.
The only people busier than the bartenders at last week's opening of Sanctuari Bar at Triniti were the valets. Were there more people pouring through the front door than cocktails into glasses? It's entirely possible -- by 8 p.m., after our media preview had ended, the new bar space was wall-to-wall with patrons, wait staff were carrying glasses on trays held high above the crowd, and the valets were playing a pretty intense version of Tetris in the parking lot.

If you haven't been to Triniti in a while, Sanctuari Bar is certainly a good reason to return. A newly redesigned bar and lounge--courtesy of Dennis Brackeen Design Group--transforms the space, with a leather banquette and slipper chairs providing cozy seating at low cocktail tables that practically beg you to show up early for your dinner reservation.

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Openings & Closings: The Washington Restaurant Exodus Continues

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
The opening of The Chicken Ranch is a bright spot in a week marred by multiple restaurant closings.

This past Wednesday marked the third restaurant closing on Washington Avenue in a month. It started with Coppa Ristorante Italiano on October 4. Polovina followed on October 30 and on November 5, TQLA joined the list of the fallen.

A partner in TQLA, Scott Lindsey, told the Houston Chronicle that, "due to higher food costs and the decreased traffic flow on Washington we just couldn't continue to provide the quality of service and fresh quality product that our customers have come to expect from TQLA."

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TQLA: Another Washington Avenue Restaurant Closes

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Troy Fields
TQLA on Washington Avenue joins the ranks of the shuttered.

If you're looking for a place to eat on Washington Avenue, it might be more difficult than it used to be. A few weeks ago, Coppa Ristorante closed. Last week, we reported that Polovina was locked out for not paying the rent. (Houston Chronicle has since confirmed that it is indeed closed.) Polovina's owner confirmed to Cleverly Stone on her CBS SportsRadio 650 show that Polovina is indeed closed. Eater Houston has a recap of that conversation.

Close by in the Montrose, 1308 El Tiempo Cantina is being forced to move because the landlord wants to sell to a developer who wants to put apartment buildings on the lot.

Add TQLA, the Southwestern restaurant and agave bar, to the list. November 10 would have been its four-year anniversary.

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