The downtown Houston bar scene is hopping these days and adding to that excitement is Houston’s newest gastropub, Bovine & Barley. I mean who doesn't love beef and brews! Being a foodie, I like having the option of dining on a gourmet meal whilst sipping on a craft beer. Pretzels and bar nuts won't satisfy this Diva!
Partners Michael Collins (The Fish, The Refinery Burgers & Whiskey) and Jason Lowery (Proof) opened Bovine & Barley in the former El Centro location at Prairie and Main. The space has been completely transformed into a sophisticated yet bold lounge filled with rich wood accents, custom tables, and Edgar Allan Poe quotes. In the center of the restaurant is a magnificent u-shaped bar that is very comfortable and welcoming. Of course you can’t miss the hundreds of light bulbs that adorn the wall spelling out HTX.
Beer, of course, is the main focus of Bovine & Barley. Over 40 beers are available on tap and many of those are from local breweries. Since the selection changes frequently, the menu is shown on computerized screens. I started with a Union Jack IPA; it was an exceptional beer with notes of citrus and honey. Wanting to try something a little bolder, my next pick was Deschutes Obsidian Stout Nitro. This luscious beer could easily pass for liquid dessert. It was deep and robust with hints of espresso and chocolate.
B & B offers a “beef-centric” menu masterfully created by Chef Harold Wong (The Fish, Azuma). There is an assortment of “comfort food” type entrees with a rich, beefy goodness to them. The small bites are perfect for sharing and include options like Meatloaf Muffins, Steak on a Stick, Meatball Flatbread, HTX Sliders, and Jalapeño Bacon Bites. My favorites were the Steak on a Stick (beef skewers with shishito peppers, grilled onions, and Thai chili sauce) and the Jalapeño Bacon Bites (pineapple chunks wrapped in jalapeño bacon and stuffed with cream cheese). For a heartier fare, I recommend the Bovine Burger. It’s a ½ pound Angus beef patty topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, fried onion strings, lettuce, and tomato.
Although beer is the main focus of B & B, wine and cocktail drinkers will find something to enjoy as well. In addition to a full bar, they have a unique selection of draft cocktails. These barrel aged cocktails rival any libation being served by local mixologists. You have the benefit of a great craft cocktail without having to spend 10 minutes waiting for it. I tried three that were currently being offered, the Sauvage Collins (Lone Elm Vodka, Citron Sauvage Liqueur, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup), the Old Swine (Fat Washed and Un-Fatwashed WhipperSnapper Whiskey, Water, Turbo, Angostura and Mole Bitters), and the Smoke & Fire Mule (Mezcal, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Ginger Beer, Hellfire Shrub Bitters). They were all delicious!
Matt Heer has created a superb bar program and his staff, which include awesome bartenders like John Havens (AKA “Red”), are extremely knowledgeable and ready to help make a suggestion. There's a little something for everyone to love at Bovine & Barley. They are open for lunch, happy hour, and dinner. It's a great place to drink, dine, and be merry! In the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “What care I how time advances? I am drinking ale today.”
Bovine & Barley
416 Main St., Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (832) 742-5683
Hours: M, T, W 11am – Midnight / Th, F 11am – 2am / Sat 4pm – 2am / Sun 4pm - Midnight
Wine lovers make the best friends. They are always excited for you to try new varietals and talk about their favorite vineyards. So when Leon Sierra of Mid-State Wines invited me to try Sardinian wines, I knew I was in for a real treat. Accompanied by fellow blogger GristleandGossip, I headed to Arcodoro to dine with Chef and owner Efisio Farris.
Arcorodo has been in Houston for 18 years, serving up Italian and Sardinian dishes to lucky patrons. The restaurant itself is beautiful with different eating spaces to accommodate both the casual diner and the couple on a romantic date. We sat in the indoor patio area and began our journey into the wines and cuisine of Sardinia.
It was only fitting that we started out with Efix, a Sardinian style Prosecco made from Vermentino grapes. The grapes are picked early to produce a crisp and refreshing sparkling wine that is perfect as an apertif. It can also be paired with shellfish, desserts, or just casually sipped while having great conversation. Efix was also Gold medal winner at this year's HLSR International Wine Competition.
To cleanse our palate before eating, we sampled a taste of Arcodoro's take on a margarita, the grapparita. It had just the right amount of citrus and was not too sweet despite being served in a sugar rimmed glass. Grappa is made from the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the grape leftover from the winemaking process. It is a distilled spirit, not a wine. I like to think of it as vodka for wine drinkers.
Our feast began with an assortment of breads and appetizers paired with Serenu, a Vermentino di Gallura still wine. The label features Efisio's father, who could easily be mistaken for a young Matt Damon. Serenu's dry and slightly bittersweet taste made it the perfect compliment to the freshly shucked oysters. The taste of ocean in the oyster and the delicate wild berries in the wine created a symphony of flavors. This versatile wine was also a terrific match for the visually stunning variety of salads that we were presented: Mozzarella di Bufala e Pomodoro (fresh tomato, basil, and mozzarella), Ensalada di Mare (seafood salad with shrimp, octopus, clams, mussels, and cuttlefish), and Marchese di Bresaola (arugula salad with marinated mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and sun-dried cured beef).
Our next wine was a Vermentino di Gallura called Lughente. This elegant wine, made from only the finest Vermentino grapes, had a crisp yet creamy taste. A slight floral note is found on the nose. It was a delicious pairing for the Portobello Croccante, a fried polenta cake topped with a roasted portabello mushroom and asiago cheese fondue. It paired just as nicely with Rock Shrimp Scampi served over Fregula (a Sardinian pasta similar to couscous), and Seared Diver Scallops with a cauliflower purée.
The bold wines and signature dishes were saved for last. Fidatu, which means trustful, is a unique blend of Cagnulari (40%), Merlot (40%), and Sangiovese (20%). You can "trust" me when I tell you it is an excellent wine. It was well balanced, not too dry, and a little fruity. Fidatu accompanied the Tortelloni Neri con Sugo di Aragosta, an off menu specialty that was featured at the Sugar Land Wine and Food Affair La Dolce Vita Dinner. The dish consisted of squid ink tortelloni stuffed with a creamy mixture of ricotta cheese and nettle leaves served in a lobster broth topped with shaved white truffles. Absolutely fabulous! I hope it gets added to their regular menu.
The last wine was Terra Saliosa, a blend of Carignano (35%), Merlot (35%), and Bovale Sardo (30%). This seductive wine was soft and velvety. Paired with the Costolette d'Agnello al Pistacchio (pistachio crusted lamb chops), it was the perfect ending to a perfect meal. We talked while we waited to digest our meal and Efisio brought a sample of his house made Limoncello, as well as a digestivo called Mirto. Mirto is a Sardinian liqueur made from the myrtle berries that grow wild on the island. These berries were part of the inspiration behind his cookbook titled Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey.
Arcodoro has exceptional food, wine, and service. It's the perfect restaurant for any occasion. They have Paella night on the patio on Thursdays and a DJ every Friday night starting at 9pm. Stop by and experience the finest wines and cuisine of Sardinia. Want to bring a little of Sardinia home? Efisio's cookbook, along with authentic Sardinia ingredients, can be purchased online at Gourmet Sardinia. The Family wines are available at Spec's on Smith Street.
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.