Chris Loftis in as Executive Chef at Number 13 in Galveston

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Mai Pham
Chris Loftis is the new executive chef at Number 13 in Galveston.

Number 13 Prime Steak and Seafood, the swanky waterfront restaurant overlooking Galveston island's Pelican Rest Marina, has named Chris Loftis as executive chef. Loftis, who joined Number 13 as part of their opening crew, had originally joined the restaurant as a sous chef when the restaurant opened in December. He was promoted to executive chef late July, and has slowly been revamping the menu since.

This is the first executive chef position for Loftis, whose resume includes being a part of the opening crew at Killen's Steakhouse under Ronnie Killen, as well as stints at Skyline at the Hilton Americas, The Foundation Room at House of Blues, Strata in Vintage Park, Sweetwater Country Club and at the now closed The Barbed Rose in Alvin, Texas.

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Openings & Closings: There's a New Doner Kebap in Town

Categories: Restaurant News

Early in the morning on Tuesday, September 23, Spanky's Homemade Pizza's kitchen caught on fire, causing enough damage to close the 7210 South Loop East pizza shop. No one was injured during the fire and the owner plans to reopen Spanky's. The southeast Houston restaurant posted this statement on Facebook, "For over 35 years, we have been honored to serve great food and provide a family atmosphere to generations of Houstonians. A fire won't stop us from continuing to do what we do best. Our first priority now is taking care of our employees while we work on reopening the restaurant as soon as possible. Again, thank you for your support and concern."

The Houston Chronicle reports that Otilia's, located at 7710 Long Point, closed this week. The restaurant known for the slogan, "No Tex-Mex," had a vacate notice sign posted on the door effective August 31.

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Alison Cook's Top 100 Restaurants Revealed - Oxheart Takes First Place for the Third Year in a Row

Photo by Mai Pham
Alison Cook's 2014 Top 100 Restaurants book is available in single copy sales today. Copies will be sold at local stores in October as well.

Last night, Houston Chronicle food critic Alison Cook revealed her 2014 choices for the Top 100 Houston Restaurants. It was the first time since the list was first released in 2012 that she did it in a public forum, in this case, a sold-out walk around dining event called the Houston Chronicle Culinary Stars.

The event, held at the Hilton Americas downtown and benefitting Recipe for Success, featured wine tastings and samplings by 21 of Houston's top chefs, all of whom had a place on Cook's list.

One of the evening's highlights included Ronnie Killen's short rib topped with bonito flakes, a four-mushroom medley and finished off with a barbecue beef consomme. To make the incredibly rich, flavorful cuts of meat, Killen says he sous vide the short rib for 48 hours before barbecuing it for another six hours. Killen's BBQ, which received a four-star review from Cook this year, debuted at third place on Cook's list; his steakhouse came in at 22, dropping 14 spots.

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First Look at Museum Park Cafe

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Phaedra Cook
A stunning flatiron steak dish with aligot potatoes, lobster mushroom and puréed spinach is only one of the reasons to make tracks to Museum Park Café

It's been four years since chef Justin Basye was a semifinalist in the James Beard Rising Star award category during his tenure at Stella Sola. In the interim, he spent time at Revival Market honing his considerable skills, co-hosted several pop-ups called Les Sauvages and did a long stint behind the scenes with Pappas as a corporate chef.

Finally, he's back at the helm of his own restaurant, along with Chris Leung, who has had his own fair share of accolades from his pastry work at Kata Robata, Bootsie's and at his own ice cream shop, Cloud 10 Creamery. The two of them working side-by-side, overseeing a bunch of gorgeous dishes as they come through the pass of the kitchen at the new Museum Park Cafe, look like a dream team.

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BCN Taste & Tradition - Houston's First Modern Spanish Restaurant Now Open in Montrose

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Chelsea Smith
Luis Roger, executive chef of BCN Taste & Tradition.

About 10 years ago, chef Luis Roger was happily employed as an executive chef at a privately owned, 16th century estate called Mas Anglada in Costa Brava, Spain. The food he cooked was simple. He used the freshest ingredients he could source from the local area -- which was rich with fresh seafood and farm-fresh produce -- to create his own brand of modern Spanish cuisine, rooted in the traditions that he'd learned while growing up. Life was good.

One day, Houston-based businessman Ignacio Torras approached him after dining at the estate. Recalls Roger, "This gentleman gave me a business card and he told me 'If you ever want to open your own restaurant, give me a call' -- and then he left." At the time, Roger, who was happy with his situation in Spain, didn't consider the possibility.

"Every year, he sent me an email. 'Hey Luis, how are you doing, how is your family? By the way, remember? I'm still thinking about that restaurant, so if you change your mind, give me a call.'" This went on year after year until two years ago, when Roger says "I had started to have the desire to open my own restaurant." Roger decided to make a stop in Houston on the way to his best friend's wedding in Panama. During that visit, he met with Torras, and began the project that is now BCN Taste & Tradition.

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Openings & Closings: Enjoy Sorrel While You Still Can

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Phaedra Cook
So much for that soft opening idea...
If you enjoy Sorrel Urban Bistro, you might want to get over there for their last few months of service. Greg Morago of Houston Chronicle reports that Ziggy Gruber, of Kenny & Ziggy's, is taking over the space at 2202 West Alabama on January 1st to convert it into Dubrow's New York Grill, a Jewish-American concept. The changeover allows Ray Salti, the restaurateur who's ran Sorrel the past three years, to focus on his wildly successful and growing Pepperoni's Pizza chain.

Looking for a new bar to visit this weekend? The former Goro & Gun space at 306 Main reopens this Saturday at 7 pm as Moving Sidewalk. Don't go expecting food; unlike Goro & Gun, Moving Sidewalk is not a restaurant. It's strictly a bar, but with notable bartender Alex Gregg at the helm, you can expect some delightful and inventive cocktails. We had a peek at the drink list last night and it looks promising. More details are available at the Houston Chronicle web site.

Now that the weather is starting to cool down just a bit (this week we can mainly thank the rain), the Urban Harvest City Hall Farmer's Market has resumed. It's a reason to get outside and enjoy freshly-made, grab-and-go food options from the vendor tables and pick up some a few groceries for home, too. There's construction going on in front of City Hall, so for now it's just down the street at the Central Library at 500 McKinney.

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First Look at Pho & Crab Restaurant, a New Vietnamese Restaurant on Houston's West Side

Photo by Mai Pham
What do you order at a restaurant called "Pho & Crab?" Pho and crab.

Approaching from the west, the prominent signage of the one month old Pho & Crab Restaurant is easy to spot. The letters are in bold, the sign's black background pops, and, despite the neon brightness of the Ninfa's sign behind it (its neighbor), the words Pho & Crab Restaurant Vietnamese Cuisine stand out.

That's definitely going to be one of the restaurant's advantages. The fact that it's probably the only Vietnamese restaurant in the near vicinity of Memorial Drive and Dairy Ashford is another. If it's aiming to become the neighborhood Vietnamese hotspot, it's got a good chance, a fact that was underscored during a late Sunday evening visit, when the restaurant was lightly occupied by tables of different age groups and ethnicities.

Like most Vietnamese restaurants, the menu is fairly large, encompassing way more than just pho and crab (there are appetizers, rice plates, rice vermicelli dishes, wok entrees and curries), though it's probably a safe bet to start with those two dishes. We made sure to order both of these, getting a bowl of the "singed beef" pho on the recommendation of Andrew Tran, the general manager. We also ordered the tamarind dungeness crab (they also offer the king crab and soft shell crab, as well a salt and pepper flavor in lieu of the tamarind), a Vietnamese delicacy that is hard to master.

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JohnMichael Lynch Named Executive Chef of Hotel Granduca

Photo by Mai Pham
JohnMichael Lynch is the new executive chef of Ristorante Cavour at the Hotel Granduca.

After a nationwide, year-long search, the Hotel Granduca has finally named a new executive chef: JohnMichael Lynch. Since taking the reins approximately five weeks ago, the classically trained 31-year-old -- who is responsible for all aspects of hotel dining, from banquets, to pool and bar, in-room dining and the flagship restaurant, Ristorante Cavour --has been working seven days a week (which coincided in part with Houston Restaurant Weeks) just to get situated.

Lynch started cooking while in high school. When he realized he wanted to become a chef, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York. He spent his early years in New Jersey and the Washington, D.C. area, where he worked under Jeffrey Buben (a James Beard Foundation Best Chef Winner in 1999) at Bistro Bis, before joining the Cherokee Town Club in Atlanta for seven years. In 2013, Lynch was named American Culinary Federation (ACF) Southeast Region Chef of the year while a chef de cuisine at Cherokee. He later did a short stint Chevy Chase Club in Maryland before joining the Hotel Granduca.

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Sweet Sarriette Pop-Up Dinner to Spotlight Four Talented Young Pastry Chefs

Photos credited to each chef
From top left, clockwise: Samantha Mendoza, Christina Au, Johnny Wesley, Andrew Musico

On the surface, it might seem like just another pop-up at Paulie's, but this Sunday's "Sweet Sarriette" pop-up dinner -- an eight-course with wine pairing gourmet dinner prepared by Christina Au, Samantha Mendoza, Andrew Musico and Johnny Wesley -- promises to be extraordinary.

The collaborating chefs represent some of Houston's most gifted up-and-coming young culinary talent. The youngest of the bunch, Au, is just 22. Straight out of culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, she landed a job as pastry cook at Rainbow Lodge. While working full time there, she performed stages (unpaid internships) at Uchi Houston and Kata Robata in her spare time. She was then hired to be part of the opening crew at The Pass and Provisions, where she worked as a pastry cook under Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan, before joining the opening team at Cloud 10 Creamery under dessert wunderkind Chris Leung.

Mendoza, 25, graduated from the Art Institute of Houston and is the current executive pastry chef at Triniti and the soon-to-open FM 903 Bakery. Mendoza started her career at Bedford under Robert Gadsby. Her vacations are spent traveling through Europe to gain inspiration. She has competed in national competitions such as Star Chefs in New York, bringing home two silver and two bronze medals from ACF Competitions in Houston, Dallas, Conroe, and Las Vegas. Just last week, she completed a one-week stage at Eleven Madison Park.

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Openings & Closings: Tout Suite is Finally Open in EaDo

Categories: Restaurant News

The Pappas Bar-B-Q located at 3814 Little York burned to the ground early in the morning on Sunday, September 7. The restaurant was closed during the time of the fire and no firefighters were injured while responding to the two-alarm blaze. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Christina Pappas, Director of Marketing for Pappas Restaurants, Inc., provided this statement to the Houston Press:

"We want to thank The Houston Fire Department for their bravery at our location on Little York. We are very thankful that all of our employees and all firefighters are safe. We are working to relocate our staff to other locations. The Little York location will be closed until further notice."

Pappas continues by saying, "Our current priority is relocating all of the Little York employees to other Pappas locations until we are able to reopen."

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