Restaurant Buzz

Houston Dining News for January 2013

Laurann Claridge
January 01, 2013

James Beard award–winning California chef Bradley Ogden is opening not one but three new concepts inside the loop this year. Like another CA chef who moved his French concept from California to Houston (Étoile owner Philippe Veripand), Ogden sees lots of opportunity in our city. Keep tuned for his two fast casual concepts (both focused on chicken, according to the Houston Business Journal) and his pub to open this year  … Bruce Molzan, who reinvented his Ruggles Grill concept as Ruggles Green a few years back and multiplied it several times throughout the city, is taking on the former space of the Brownstone Restaurant. There, Molzan will open a trio of concepts including a bar, nightclub and an eatery dubbed Corner Table by Chef Bruce Molzan this month … Al Scavelli, Angelo Scavelli and Olsi Lito have opened Crisp Wine, Beer and Eatery in the Heights area. This isn’t their first bar/restaurant; they also operate Pub Fiction, Shot Bar and Celtic Gardens. Their newest features a great self-serve Enomatic wine machine and a cask system so you can pour all sorts of varieties of beer and wine … Taking the all-American burger to new heights, Elevation Burger has opened its first locale on Kirby Drive in the former Mai Thai space. The fast-casual concept’s claim to burger fame is its 100 percent USDA-certified organic beef, ground on premises. These free-range, grass-fed herds are hailed as the cleanest cows in the pasture; we’re told they’re never given antibiotics and live in an area free of pesticides and chemicals. When you visit the 2,500-square-foot burger haven, be sure to try the French fries cooked in olive oil … Hawthorn — named for the tree variety — is a New American restaurant with Mediterranean influences, open for dinner only at 3200 Kirby Drive. (It’s situated where Dessert Gallery stood for many years.) Chef Riccardo Palazzo-Giorgio and GM Cory Graff serve up fresh pastas and gelatos made in house. At last visit, we swooned over Palazzo-Giorgio’s pan-roasted Pekin duck breast with date purée, a sauce soubise and grilled romaine …Hungry’s in Rice Village has announced plans to nearly double in size. The three-decades-old restaurant, which serves healthful fare from all over the globe, will add 9,000 square feet to its footprint in both the front and back of the house, as well as a 3,000-square-foot outdoor space, plus a brick oven for pizza, mezze bar, a second-floor lounge called Upstairs serving bar bites and late-night fare, and a cantilevered balcony, all designed by Jim Herd Architects … Chef Jimmy Mitchell has signed on as the chef at Adair Kitchen to liven up the dinner menu. Mitchell has also created a concept worth talking about: Restaurant Recyclers, aimed at helping restaurants in Austin, San Antonio and Houston go green and eliminate much of the waste an eatery can generate … Branch Water Tavern has added a raw bar at dinner each evening, serving up oysters from Connecticut to the Gulf Coast … Triniti has expanded its bar area to create a lounge with bar bites ranging from fried chicken and waffles to devils on horseback … Like Pisco? Latin Bites is now creating its own house-made Pisco liqueur — 20 varieties, in fact — including ginger, mint and roasted pepper … The Eatsie Boys Café (by acclaimed food-truck trio) opened recently in the Montrose in the former Kraftsman Cafe spot … Speaking of food trucks: A brand-new fancy food truck is rolling your way soon from Berryhill Tamales. Look for the taqueria on wheels curbside near your ‘hood … Celebrating 30 years in business this month, Damian’s inaugurates its anniversary menus. Starting Friday, January 18, they’ll offer three courses for $30, while February brings Friday spaghetti and meatball lunches for $8.30 (the circa-1983 price!) … Monarch Bistro at Hotel ZaZa celebrates 10 years in Houston with $10 lunch items all month long.