Chef Randy Rucker, who abruptly left the Rainbow Lodge last September, has popped up in neighboring Tomball, where he has opened a new restaurant with his mom, a longtime resident of the rural community north of Houston. Named after her, Bootsie's Heritage Cafe begins a new chapter in Rucker's resume. The chef, once known for sous-vide and molecular gastronomy, promises that Bootsie's menu will be "traditional comfort food and Gulf Coast favorites." Set in a renovated old farmhouse in Tomball, the chef even has friends and family raising fowl, pigs and produce for the cafe. Bootsie's Heritage Cafe, 112 Commerce St., Tomball, TX 77375, no phone.
Let the good times roll! After a 17-month renovation, Brennan's of Houston finally reopened on Fat Tuesday. A staple of fine dining in Houston for more than four decades, this sibling to New Orleans' Commander's Palace was almost lost to fire during Hurricane Ike in 2008. Co-owners Alex Brennan-Martin, his sister, Ti Adelaide Martin and their cousin Lally Brennan have re-created much of the original ambience of the historic building, such as the wine room and the ballroom, now named The Garden. Danny Trace is the new head chef and promises plenty of Brennan's famous foods including turtle soup and bananas Foster, while also adding his own flair. Brennan’s of Houston, 3300 Smith St., Houston, TX 77006, 713-522-9711.
Fire Closes Another Houston Landmark
Just as Brennan's of Houston was re-opening after a 17-month renovation from a devastating fire, another Houston landmark went up in flames. Mai's, which claimed to be the oldest Vietnamese eatery in the city, was gutted by a two-alarm fire. The Houston Fire Department attributes the blaze to a grease fire that started in a wok the employees were using. Firefighters had to withdraw from the structure when the roof collapsed, but luckily there were no injuries reported. The family says it plans to rebuild the popular late-night noodle spot that had been a favorite of club-goers and city cops for more than three decades. Mai's, 3403 Milam St., Houston, TX 77002, 713-520-7684.
Update on Masraff’s Move
Father and son restaurateurs Tony and Russell Masraff have announced that Saturday, March 27 will be the last day of business for their their ten-year-old Galleria location of Masraff's. The newly renovated location at 1753 Post Oak Boulevard should be ready to serve dinners on Monday, April 12. Masraff’s, 1025 S. Post Oak Lane, Houston, TX 77056, 713-355-1975.
Houston Chef on Bravo's "Top Chef Masters"
Bravo has announced the contestants that will compete on the second season of "Top Chef Masters." Representing Houston will be chef Monica Pope of T'afia. Tune in to the premiere on April 7 at 11 p.m. (10 p.m. Central). T'afia, 3701 Travis St., Houston, TX 77002, 713-524-6922.
The talented Ryan Hildebrand, who quickly departed The Rockwood Room shortly after it opened, is now the chef at Scott Tycer's Textile Restaurant. Tycer says the move will allow him to take on an expanded role at his other restaurant, Gravitas. Hildebrand replaces the departing Dax McAnear who heads to San Francisco. The new chef says Textile loyalists can expect an evolution of the concept as he develops his collaboration with Tycer. Textile Restaurant, Kraftsmen Baking, 611 W. 22nd St., Houston, TX 77008, 832-209-7177.
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