In another sign that the island is bouncing back from last year's Hurricane Ike, the historic The Tremont House in Galveston is not only fully restored, but also the site of a new gourmet cyber café. Tremont Café offers 42-inch plasma TVs, free WiFi, Starbucks coffee and a variety of house-made pastries, pizzas, soups, sandwiches and deserts. Jerry Helminski, chef of Hotel Galvez, The Tremont House and Harbor House, created the menu for the new restaurant. Tremont Café, The Tremont Hotel, 2300 Ships Mechanic Row, Galveston, TX 77550, 409-763-0300.
Chef/owner Chris Yeo has announced a September 28 opening of a Straits Restaurant in Houston. The Singaporean eatery, modeled after his popular San Francisco outpost, will be on the ground floor of the Hotel Sorella in the new CityCentre multi-use development on the west side of town. "While our dishes are clearly inspired by some of the homeland favorites, we push the envelope with our modern presentation and bold combination of flavors," says Yeo. Signature dishes will include the Chili Crab (one of Singapore's national dishes), a whole crab sautéed in a spicy sweet-and-sour tomato sauce; Rendang Beef, a slow-cooked, stew-like Malaysian/Indonesian dish with tender cubes of beef served with a side of pandan polenta, all tucked into a banana leaf; and Origami Sea Bass, a dish of Chinese origins that features sea bass baked in a hand-folded box of parchment paper with ginger, shiitake mushrooms, rice wine and longan. Straits Restaurant, Hotel Sorella, 800 W. Sam Houston Parkway N. #9, Houston, TX 77024, no phone available yet.
La Vista Goes to the Dogs
La Vista is going to the dogs, or at least to the Ronald McDonald House dog, Mogie. Chef Greg Gordon has created two dishes named for the house dog: Mogie's beef short ribs and Mogie's bird dog quail. Both dishes are on the La Vista Memorial and Fountainview menus with a portion of the cost benefitting Houston's Ronald McDonald House. "I've always been a big believer in involving the community with regard to my restaurants," said Gordon. "I thought it would be fun to support Mogie and all of the House's children by naming two of my favorite dishes after the resident house dog." La Vista, 1936 Fountain View Dr., Houston, TX 77057, 713-787-9899.
Wine Tastings at Rainbow Lodge
Hopefully cooler climates will soon hit Houston, just in time for Rainbow Lodge's popular monthly wine series. On the second Wednesday of each month, oenophiles can sip-and-stroll the lush garden and patio areas while enjoying casual tastings. September 9 is Climbing Ridges, featuring Canoe Ridge, Ribbon Ridge and Harlow Ridge, while the Swine and Fine event on October 14 will pair wines with chef Randy Rucker's roasted, cured, grilled and smoked pork bites. Events begin at 5:30 p.m. and cost $29per person. Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella Blvd., Houston, TX 77008, 713-861-8666.
Michael Pellegrino is the new executive chef at Max's Wine Dive. Continuing the tradition of using local ingredients to whip up gourmet comfort food, he's been tinkering with classic menu items (the Haute dog, buttermilk fried chicken and Texas Kobe pot roast, for example) and weekly specials. Recently, he's enticed foodies with a Coca-Cola glazed crispy pork belly and delicate miniature tacos. Max’s Wine Dive, 4720 Washington Ave., Ste. B, Houston, TX 77007, 713-880-8737.
Gravitas co-founder and executive chef Jason Gould has foodie tongues wagging after his abrupt announcement that he's leaving the restaurant. Gould first tweeted the news, then called into a local radio show to explain, saying he had found out that he was not an equity partner in the venture with chef Scott Tycer (of Kraftsmen Baking and Textile restaurant) as he had thought for the past four years. Tycer was in Europe at the time and unavailable for comment. Gould, an Australian, has married since being in Houston and said he plans to stay on and is looking for a new venture. Gravitas, 807 Taft St., Houston, TX 77019, 713-522-0995.
Check back soon for more news.
View our calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Houston