The short-lived Ocean's is now Concepción with chef Jonathan Jones at the helm. Currently open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday brunch, the restaurant features Jones' take on Latin American and Mexican cuisine and specializes in ceviche. Developer Jorge Alvarez made a good move changing the so-so Ocean's into a new concept and hiring one of the city's favorite chefs. The historic home in Montrose with its wonderful tree-lined patio was once the home of the popular Bistro Vino, which closed in 2008 after a 24-year run. Concepción, 819 West Alabama St., Houston, TX 77006, 713-520-7744.
Celebrate National Escargot Day at Bistro Provence
Snail lovers mark your calendars. Bistro Provence celebrates National Escargot Day May 24 with a special snail menu. Included will be escargots en brochette (oven-roasted escargots and bacon brochette), risotto d'escargots, roti de boeuf aux escargots et echalottes (garlic-studded beef filet with sauteed escargots and shallots) and the Bistro's popular pizza nonni (snail pizza) from chef Jeremy Griffin. Bistro owners Jean Philippe and Genevieve Guy also operate a food truck called L'es-Car-Go that sells escargot poppers (deep-fried snails with a Texas sauce). You can see the truck's schedule at www.les-car-go.com. Bistro Provence, 13616 Memorial Dr., Houston, TX 77079, 713-827-8008.
It’s Watermelon Time in Texas
High atop the Hyatt Regency Houston, the revolving Spindletop restaurant is celebrating summer with watermelon soup. Chef de cuisine Drew Yeckley has created a chilled Texas watermelon soup of fresh blended watermelon, honey, rosemary, mint, citrus juices and Champagne. The restaurant serves it with a side of cucumber, feta cheese and balsamic reduction so diners can add as much or as little of garnish as they wish. The soup is available through August --- when the Rio Grande Valley watermelon season ends. The Spindletop, Hyatt Regency, 1200 Louisiana St., Houston, TX 77002, 713-654-1234.
Good news for fans of Triniti Restaurant + Bar and chef Ryan Hildebrand: He's opening another restaurant. Hildebrand has hired Houston's MC2 Architects to build a new restaurant at the site of the shuttered Ruggles Grill at 903 Westheimer Road. Called Brande, the place will have a rustic farmhouse feel and specialize in charcuterie, crafted breads, pastries, dry-aged meats and craft cocktails. Dax McAnear, formerly of Beaver's and benjy's and most recently at San Francisco's Hog & Rocks, will return to Houston as chef de cuisine of Brande, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. Brande, 903 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77006, no phone.
After 47 years, Vargo's, a lakefront restaurant known for its peacock population strolling the lawns, has shuttered. Rumors had been floating ever since a for sale sign showed up on the 8.7-acre property, but on May 11, the once popular restaurant closed it doors, leaving several would-be brides frantically looking for a last minute venue. The Vargo's website still lists the property for sale and says the restaurant is temporarily closed. Yet a Houston Business Journal article says the property is in bankruptcy and a new sign posted on the property says the site has been sold and will be the future home of a mixed-use development. Founder Al Vargo sold the site in the 1990s, after it started to fade from its heyday in the '70s and '80s. Vargo's, 2401 Fondren Rd., Houston, TX 77063, no phone.
Bryan Caswell --- from "The Next Iron Chef" --- and restaurant partner Bill Floyd now have one less restaurant in their Houston empire. The Texas-Tuscan Stella Sola closed May 6. Caswell said the decision to close was made due to an uncertain future about the lease and the departure of chef de cuisine Adam Dorris. Stella Sola had a good run. Caswell and Floyd still have REEF, Little Bigs and El Real Tex-Mex Cafe to keep them busy.
View our calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Houston