We believe that every decade or so, a restaurant has to shake it up and do a little reinventing. Apparently Monica Pope, chef/owner of the former T’Afia restaurant, feels the same. Late this summer, she shuttered her nearly 10-year-old Midtown eatery, only to re-emerge a fortnight latter with Sparrow Bar + Cookshop in its place. Along with Becki and Jur van der Oord of Installation Antiques and the branding firm Primer Gray, Pope set about tweaking the space with pops of red, from glossy swinging kitchen doors to a couple of cozy settees by the window. The trio also judiciously employed industrial touches (i.e., an airplane wing as a light in the men’s room), worn and warm elements such as seasoned tart pans for the waitstaff to carry and cool leather aprons by the Sealy-based Stash Co. to wear, as well as a patio lovely enough to idle away hours on a pretty day. Pope, who became a force locally in developing farmers’ markets and spearheading our city’s zeal for farm-to-table fare, continues serving forth frequently changing bites at her cookshop (a term that predates the concept of our modern restaurant). Order crave-worthy apps such as shiitake mushroom dumplings ($14) and a bright orange dip of kabocha and butternut squashes with homemade flatbread to build your own burgers and fries ($15) at lunch, or try a satisfying dinner entree of lamb belly satay ($15) or Kobe inside skirt steak napped with an avocado sauce and almond-hazelnut sambal ($16). Though Pope opens her doors for lunch, dinner and breakfast on Saturday, she begs you to drop in anytime — perhaps for bar bites in the afternoon, dessert and drinks after a show or whenever the mood strikes, 10 am to midnight. 3701 Travis St., 713.524.6922; sparrowhouston.com.
IMAGE: Monica Pope at Sparrow. Photo by Debora Smail.