Schiller-Del Grande, the folks behind RDG + Bar Annie, Taco Milagro, Cafe Express and The Grove, have opened another new spot. Ava Kitchen & Whiskey Bar is now up and running at the multi-use West Ave in Upper Kirby. Executive chef Robert Del Grande has crafted an eclectic but down-to-earth menu combining Italian dishes with regional tastes such as a spicy coppa salad with aromatic Taleggio cheese, dried mission figs and fennel, and a delicate white anchovies salad paired with hot chorizo and green olives. There are also pasta dishes, steaks and even a Texas-style burger. The décor, by SDG partner Candice Schiller, is a modern take on a traditional European space with ocean hues and a bank of windows. The entrance hall splits to a stairway that will soon be open to a second SDG venture at West Ave: Alto Pizzeria. Ava Kitchen & Whisky Bar, West Ave, 2800 Kirby Dr., Houston, TX 77098, 713-386-6460.
Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, the long-awaited eponymous eatery by French chef Philippe Schmit, formerly of Bistro Moderne, is now open. The modern and almost over-the-top chic restaurant designed by architect Shafik Rifaat (who created Tony’s) is now open for dinner Monday through Saturday and will open for lunch service on February 8. The extensive menu is based on Schmit’s immersion in traditional French cooking techniques but leans toward creative dishes, including everything from thin-crust pizzas to Texas-style Burgundy beef cheeks paired with mac and cheese. Philippe’s also sports a full bar and a lengthy and reasonably priced wine list. Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, 1800 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056, 713-439-1000.
Anniversary Meal Deal at Restaurant CINQ La Colombe d'Or Hotel
It was 30 years ago that a lawyer named Steve Zimmerman decided to save the old Fondren Mansion and turned it into La Colombe d’Or Hotel, one of the world’s smallest luxury hotels. Now the restaurant at the hotel---recently redubbed Restaurant CINQ and with hot young chef Jeramie Robison at the helm---is honoring the anniversary with a $30, three-course anniversary meal. The package includes a choice of escargots, Caesar salad, ceviche or soup of the day; pan seared chicken breast, petit filet mignon, braised short ribs or Asian red fish; and a dessert course of crème brulee, coffee cake or chocolate mousse. The anniversary meal is available for lunch or dinner until November 29 of this year. Restaurant CINQ, La Colombe d'Or Hotel, 3410 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX 77006, 713-524-7999.
Breakfast at Ouisie's Table
Ouisie's Table, a River Oaks longtime favorite known for Gulf Coast comfort food, has started serving breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and brunch from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the weekends. The menu includes such down-home dishes like biscuits and gravy, crab cake Benedict, steak and eggs and sweet potato pancakes. And, of course, plenty of Bellinis and mimosas. Ouisie's Table, 3939 San Felipe Rd., Houston, TX 77027, 713-528-2264.
Happy Hour at Catalan Food & Wine
Catalan Food & Wine offers a $5 Washington Avenue happy hour every day in the bar and patio from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. (starting at 5 p.m. on weekends). Guests can enjoy $5 appetizers, $5 wine specials, $5 cocktails and discounted beers. The menu changes every week but previous options have included Frito chili pie, muffaletta sliders and BLT flatbread. Catalan Food & Wine, 5555 Washington Ave., Houston, TX 77007, 713-426-4260.
Look for some big changes in the next few months at Catalan Food & Wine, as founding chef Chris Shepherd departs in May to open his own restaurant. Catalan co-owners Charles Clark and Grant Cooper plan to announce a new chef in May and rebrand Catalan around his/her talents. At the same time they’ll be busy turning the old Tony Mandola’s spot on West Gray into a casual French brasserie. As for Shepherd, he’ll be working on Underbelly, a Westheimer Road restaurant focusing on the same kinds of food he developed at Catalan, combining local ingredients and his love of whole pigs; he even plans to have a full-scale butcher shop onsite. Along with the 2011 opening of Philippe Schmit’s eponymous restaurant and the anticipated opening of the Bryan Caswell, Bill Floyd, Robb Walsh El Real Tex-Mex, it’s shaping up to be a fun year for Houston foodies. Catalan Food & Wine, 5555 Washington Ave., Houston, TX 77007, 713-426-4260.
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