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News for Restaurants in Houston
November 2009 Archive

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Named after the beach town near Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa Playa Mexicana restaurant opened in November in the spot previously occupied by Sauté, with a saucy, laid-back attitude and open-air dining room. Executive chef L. J. Wiley offers an ambitious menu of Mexican seafood with several takes on ceviche, snacks of rock shrimp and entrees of grilled amberjack and fish tacos. Yelapa is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, with late night hours Wednesday through Saturday. Yelapa Playa Mexicana, 2303 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77098, 281-501-0391.
Hearsay, which opened in early November in a historic downtown building, bills itself as a gastro lounge specializing in cocktails and scotch with a limited gourmet menu. Twenty one-eighteen Travis is the second oldest building in Houston. Originally a confederate army munitions depot, for years it was the 12 Spot Bar. The new décor retains much of the original finishes, creating a cozy place for downtowners to hang out after work. The menu lists just five entrees, including a chicken breast stuffed with Texas goat cheese, a burger and mahi mahi tacos. Ruling the kitchen is executive chef Pedro Silva, who also serves as executive chef of Grille 5115 at Saks Fifth Avenue. Hearsay, 218 Travis St., Houston, TX 77002, 713-225-8079.
Robert Gadsby's old Bedford location in the Heights was taken over by Bryan Caswell and Bill Floyd of REEF and Little Bigs after Gadsby's sudden departure. Floyd and Caswell planned to partner with chef Jason Gould, who had exited from Scott Tycer's Gravitas, in a Texas-Tuscany venture called Stella Sola (Lone Star). Stella Sola is now open, but Gould is no longer on board. On November 7, just days into the soft opening, Gould tweeted, "No longer with Stella Sola!! Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!!" Justin Basye, Gould's sous chef, is now executive chef. Stella Sola, 1001 Studewood St., Houston, TX 77008-7190, 713-880-1001.
Another restaurant has opened in the trendy Washington Avenue corridor: Branch Water Tavern from executive chef David Grossman, formerly of Gravitas and REEF, and beverage director Evan Turner from 17. The duo are calling it a modern tavern peddling fresh, seasonal ingredients, classic dishes presented with a modern twist and an impressive selection of artisanal beers, boutique wines and American whiskeys. The restaurant name comes from the pure stream or "branch" water used to cut whiskey before it's bottled. Branch Water Tavern, 510 S. Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77007, 713-863-7777.
Add another upscale eatery to Houston Pavilions, the downtown multi-use destination that opened last year. The Dallas-based 111 Forks opened an 11,000-square-foot space with seating for 325. Executive chef and general manager Ozzie Roger offers a dinner menu of turf and surf as well as a lunch menu, new to the chain, that gives office workers a chance to relax over so-called local favorites: prime burger, French dip au jus, grilled chicken sandwich, rib-eye sandwich and III Forks signature sandwich with tomato, bacon, lettuce, avocado, Swiss and turkey. 111 Forks joins the House of Blues, Lucky Strike Lanes, Gaudalajara del Centro and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood restaurant in the Pavilions, which plans to unveil three more restaurants in the future. III Forks, Houston Pavilions, 1201 Fannin St., Suite 129, Houston, TX 77002, 713-658-9457.

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Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for Houston to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from yesteryear. Zula, R.I.P.

Brennan's of Houston has announced that Danny Trace will be the new executive chef when the venerable eatery reopens in January. The well-known restaurant has been shuttered since it caught fire during Hurricane Ike in September of 2008. Co-owner Alex Brennan-Martin went to the family well to tap Trace who is currently the executive chef at Commander's Palace & On The Rocks Bar at HarborWalk Village in Destin, Florida. Trace has been with Brennan family restaurants for ten years, starting with Commander's Palace in New Orleans. "Guests will still be able to enjoy their longtime favorites, but they'll be able to try new things, too," says Trace. "I've been so fortunate to have rare opportunities come my way and I feel as though it has all led up to this." Brennan’s of Houston, 3300 Smith St., Houston, TX 77006, 713-522-9711.

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