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Celebrate Philippe Restaurant + Lounge's 2nd Anniversary
Philippe Restaurant + Lounge turns two in February --- and you’re invited to the party. Beginning on February 4 and continuing through Februay 9, chef/owner Philippe Schmit will feature a $40 three-course meal with samplings from favorite dishes from 2011, 2012 and 2013. Choices include escargot in potatoes, Burgundy beef cheeks, baked lemon sole and, for dessert, French cowboy churros (a cinnamon pastry) or apple tarte Tatin. Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, 3406 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX 77027, 713-439-0072.
Bye, Bye Blanco's
There's no closing date yet, but the historic Blanco’s Bar & Grill, a ol’ time country honky tonk and burger joint in the tony River Oaks area of Houston, will soon end its run. The 13-acre property where the legendary Blanco’s sits was sold by the Taub family to the nearby St. John’s School. School officials intend to create a master plan for the school’s expansion, and while manager and co-owner Karin Barnes hasn’t met with the new owners of the land, she has stopped taking private party reservations. “I’ll know more after we meet,” Barnes says. “Right now I don’t know if it will be weeks or years before they tear this down.” Blanco’s Bar & Grill, 3406 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX 77027, 713-439-0072.
Backstreet Cafe Gets Face Lift
Backstreet Cafe is turning the big 3-0, and it got a makeover to mark the occasion. The popular eatery, which resides in an old home in River Oaks, was closed until January 23, 2013 for a little facelift. The 1930s-era house probably needed a little work and owner Tracy Vaught decided to take time in the New Year to do it. Her other eateries are Prego and Hugo’s. Backstreet Cafe, 1103 S. Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77019, 713-521-2239.
Damian's Cucina Italiana Turns 30
Happy New Year --- and happy 30th anniversary --- to Damian's Cucina Italiana, which is celebrating with lunch and dinner specials all year long. Back in 1983, Damian Mandola and his cousin, Frankie B. Mandola, opened Damian’s in an old two-story flower shop. At the time, it was an iffy part of the city, but today it’s in the center of the trendy Midtown area. Damian Mandola has since moved on but another cousin, Bubba Butera, and Franki B. Mandola’s son, Johnny Mandola, have since joined the team and built a loyal following. In gratitude, the restaurant is offering a special $30-three-course lunch and dinner during the month of January --- there’s also a $8.30 spaghetti and meatballs special every Friday during lunch. March will highlight staff favorites with off-the-menu selections chosen by servers. In April, Damian’s will offer a treat for vino lovers with a half-off wine program Monday through Thursday nights. During May, Damian’s signature cocktail, the Sicilian Cosmo, will be half-off every night for ladies; and in June and July, famous Fried Chicken Fridays will be available during lunch. Damian's Cucina Italiana, 3011 Smith St., Houston, TX 77005, 713-522-0439.
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Sad news for Houston foodies this week as chef/owner David Grossman announced he’s closing Branch Water Tavern, a restaurant and cocktail lounge in a restored building in The Heights. Hailed as one of the best chef-driven restaurants in town since it opened in the fall of 2010, it came as a surprise when Grossman announced another local restaurateur, Matt Brice of Bistro des Amis and Mo’s A Place for Steaks, has taken over the lease. Grossman plans to stay on as chef for two months before leaving and taking the Branch Water Tavern name with him. Brice will then change the name of the restaurant. Grossman is working with his fiancé and business partner Julia Sharaby to create a brick-and-mortar version of her Fusion Taco food truck. After that, he says he will reopen a more casual and lower-priced version of Branch Water Tavern. Branch Water Tavern, 510 Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77007, 713-863-7777.
View our calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Houston