Craft Beer enthusiasts in North Houston have something to look forward to this spring. Tapped Drafthouse & Kitchen is scheduled to open in April at 20444 Kuykendahl in Spring. Owners Andrew and Kelsey Neidert hope to fill a void in the Spring and The Woodlands area by providing a place where locals feels welcome. "Our goal is to create a fun, casual and inviting ambiance, somewhere you want to visit repeatedly", says Andrew Neidert. "We designed Tapped with the needs and character of the neighborhood in mind."
Tapped will feature a dog-friendly patio with table seating for 40 and a 55-inch flat screen TV, as well as outdoor games like corn hole and Jenga. Inside Tapped, the 2,400-square-foot dining space will accommodate up to 84 guests in a relaxing space with modern and industrial elements. The main attraction though is the expansive tap-wall that will display up to 50 different beer and cider taps
Service at Tapped will start with lunch and dinner. Menu highlights include pizzas, wraps, loaded nachos, chicken wings and pretzels with beer cheese and mustard. Guests will be able to fill their own growlers with their favorite beer or take home a make your own six-pack from the refrigerated bottle selection. Look for special events in the future including tap takeovers, beer classes and trivia nights.
H-E-B Creekside in The Woodlands got everyone in the mood for Mardi Gras last Friday with a 6-course dinner and wine pairing called "A Night in the Bayou." If you shop at H-E-B then you are familiar with the Cooking Connection set up between the bakery and the meat department. Featured products are used to demonstrate easy meal ideas and samples as well as recipe cards are passed out to interested shoppers. Creekside H-E-B takes its demonstration to a whole new level thanks to Cooking Connection Manager Dominic Dawkins.
Each month, Dawkins designs a five course themed menu with complimentary wine samples. Dinners are typically $25 and can accommodate 16 to 24 guests. The really cool thing about these dinners is that products to make them are all found at H-E-B. Not only do you get a delicious meal, but you come home with new ideas for dinner and wines to pair with them. The wines are very reasonable and ranged in price from $10 - $20.
The evening started out with Oysters Rockefeller paired with Passimento Romeo & Juiet Prosecco, Itlaly. I love drinking sparkling wine with oysters. This light bodied wine had just enough acidity to balance the salinity of the dish. Next up was Shrimp & Grits paired with Fall Creek Headwaters Chenin Blanc, Texas. The shrimp was tossed with Bayou Brothers BBQ Shrimp Mix. The third dish was Tilapia Creole served over wilted kale and paired with Sacha Lichine Rose, France. The fish had a perfectly seared blackened crust and the kale was lightly sauteed with HEB Relish That Corn.
You can't have a night in the bayou without gumbo. Chicken and sausage gumbo was paired with Bending Branch Red Blend, Texas. Now I'm a traditionalist when it comes to gumbo and I like to make my own roux. For gumbo in a pinch, Cookwell & Co. 2 Step Gumbo Starter made a believer out of me. Just add shredded chicken and sausage to the starter and you have a super easy meal! Next up was Boudin Stuffed Pork Terderloin wrapped in bacon served with okra and tomato Ragu, dirty rice, and sweet pepper confit paired with Conn Creek Herrick Red Blend, California.
The final course was a sinfully delicious dessert. Bananas Foster Bread Pudding topped with Bayou Brothers Bananas Foster Sauce and HEB 1905 Vanilla Ice Cream was paired with 19 Crimes 'The Warden', Australia. My crime for the evening....eating every last crumb.
For more information on H-E-B Creekside Cooking Connection or to get on the email list for monthly dinners email Dominic Dawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week members of the Houston Food Blogger Collective were invited to take a sneak peek at Astros owner Jim Crane's newest Italian eatery, Ossa & Kristalla. The casual sister restaurant to Potente opened to the public this past weekend. Both restaurants are overseen by executive chef Michael Parker and feature modern Italian fare.
Ossa & Kristalla is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu focuses on fresh, local ingredients and large portions that encourage sharing. Bread, pastas and pastries are all made in-house. Lunch includes salads, sandwiches, pasta and wood-fired pizzas.
The rustic dining room at Osso & Kristalla features an open kitchen which allows diners to be part of the action. The restaurant has an extensive, yet reasonably priced wine list as well cocktails. The Quattro Formaggi pizza, Rigatoni and Meatball pasta and Arancini were my favorite dishes of the night.
Our final treat for the evening was a quick look at the upscale Potente. A laid back bar is connected to the elegant dining space. The bar features several signature cocktails and a variety of Campari and Gin based drinks. Open for dinner only, the menu at Potente includes daily seafood selections, pastas and steaks.
It's Valentine's Day and you didn't make plans. What to do now?
Here are some last minute dining options:
Buca di Beppo is offering a special dine in only package for $49.99 which includes a heart-shaped lasagna (serves up to 3), small mixed green or Caesar salad, small garlic bread and three chocolate chip cannolis. Don't feel like dining out? Buca also has two Love packages to go for $49.99 that include a free heart-shaped pizza.
Current located in the Westin Woodlands hotel is offering a 4 Course Prix Fixe dinner for $60.
Beginnings: Butternut Squash Soup, Tomato Soup, or Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
2nd Course: Texas Blue Mousse, Caesar Salad, or Baby Green Salad
Entrees: 8 oz. Filet of Beef, Blackened Red Fish, or Seafood Gnocchi
Dessert Trio of Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, Bread Pudding, and Tiramisu Shooter
Pasta e Pesto has a special Valentine's Day menu which includes Pasta e Fagoli, Pork Loin in a mushroom sauce and a red velvet tiramisu.
Papa John's Pizza
If you're looking to spend a romantic evening at home, Papa John's has a deal for you. A medium one topping thin crust heart-shaped pizza and a brownie is just $15. Or you can get two medium heart-shaped pizzas for $18. Just add wine!
Super Bowl LI is less than three weeks away and Houston is preparing for one heck of a party. If you plan on heading downtown to join in the revelry, then these five bars should be on your list of stops.
Bovine and Barley 416 Main
Bovine and Barley is a great first stop on your Main Street bar crawl. It has a lively atmosphere perfect for socializing and the beef-centric menu will give your the nourishment needed to get through the night. They have a great variety of rotating beers on tap and an impressive selection of cocktails.
Moving Sidewalk 306 Main
Moving Sidewalk is the ultimate cocktail bar. The innovative seasonal menu makes use of fresh ingredients to produce some of Houston's best cocktails. Not only do the drinks taste fabulous, but their hand-cut crystal clear ice makes them extra special. As an added bonus, the bartenders are super friendly.
The Pastry War 310 Main
You won't find any pastries at The Pastry War, but what you will find is Houston's best selection of tequilas and mezcals. Along with your agave spirits, be sure to enjoy an assortment of delicious accoutrement that include orange slices with worm salt, deliciously spicy dried grasshoppers, and pineapples sprinkled with tajin. If you're looking for something a little heartier, The Pastry War has fantastic tamales.
When you're tired of all the crowds and want to sneak away to a chill spot with great booze, then Capt. Foxheart's is the place for you. It may be a little difficult to find, but those with a sharp eye will find it unusual that a doorman is posted outside a law office. Anyway, once you're inside relax and enjoy the view from the great patio or just hang out at the bar and sip on some exceptional spirits.
El Big Bad 419 Travis
Okay so not technically on Main St., but it's just a block away and no bar crawl would be complete without a trip to El Big Bad. The Big Bad Mother of infused tequilas, El Big Bad has EVERY flavor of tequila imaginable, all infused in-house. Want a Durian infused tequila? They have it. Like it spicy and want to try Ghost Pepper? They have it. In addition to great cocktails, El Big Bad has killer Mexican food and a lively atmosphere.
So wherever your Super Bowl celebrations take place, remember to drink responsibly. Have a designated driver or UBER. Stay safe!
I was recently invited to attend a Chinatown Food Crawl by Yelper extraordinaire Lou C. in Bellaire. About 15 people showed up to taste the street food style tapas available at the Metropole Center Night Market. Our first stop was Jing 5 where we munched on spicy duck wings and necks while waiting for everyone to arrive. Our host had nametags and info sheets for all guests. Lou gave us a bit of history on the cuisine and some background info on the owners. The duck wings and necks are first boiled and then placed in a spicy brine. I found very interesting that the dishes were served cold.
The second stop was 75 Yummy Kitchen. The owners were waiting for us to arrive and as soon as we sat down a variety of intriguing dishes began arriving at the table. Dishes were served family style and our table had a huge lazy Susan in the center making it easy for the large group to access all the food. We had an assortment of spicy dishes thanks to the chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns as well as some non-spicy dishes to cool the palate. Sichuan peppercorns produce an introducing numbing effect (mala) - ma meaning numbing and la meaning hot.
The dishes at Yummy Kitchen seemed never ending. Over ten entrees were brought to the table including won ton, dumplings, Dan Dan Noodles, spicy chicken, kung pao, tofu skins, and sliced beef and ox tongue. The two stand out dishes for me were the Malatang and the Sichuan Grilled Fish. The Malatang was a spicy hot soup that is made to order. You fill your bowl with items from the buffet and deliver it to your server with a pack of noodles. In a few minutes your hot bowl of soup is brought to the table. The Grilled Fish was placed in the center of the table in a bubbling tray of chili garlic sauce. It was delicious! The Iced Mung Bean Jelly was the perfect beverage for cooling off after all the spicy dishes.
The next stop was Olympic Bakery. Normally not open this late in the evening, the owner stayed open just for us. We were welcomed with the aroma of sweet pastries and samples of wife cake, crispy wontons, and jerky. Moon Cakes were available in several flavors.
The final stop of the evening was Star Snow Ice. Smoothies, Snow Ice, hot tofu soup, and warm jelly were among the many items on the menu. I choose mango snow ice with fresh fruit. It was the perfect ending to a fun and informative event.
Tony's has always been synonymous with fine dining. The decor is elegant and the service is impeccable. So when an opportunity presented itself to dine at Tony's along with members of the Houston Food Blogger Collective, I jumped at the chance. I knew it would be a memorable evening and it was indeed.
The meal started with glasses of Prosecco while we chatted amongst ourselves. Fellow HFBC member and our host for the evening, Jeremy Parzen, provided us with some background information about the restaurant and its previous locations prior to settling in its current home in Greenway Plaza. Although, unable to join us for the evening, Mr. Vallone picked out a special tasting menu and wine for us to enjoy.
The first course was Gnocchi al Forno with Cerignola Olives and Pecorino. The dish was simple, yet delightful. The sauce was creamy and the gnocchi were light and fluffy. Next was a Baby Romaine salad topped with spicy walnuts and roasted butternut squash drizzled with a white anchovie vinaigrette. For our entrees we were given a choice of Branzino or Elk. Being the carnivore that I am, I could not resist the Elk.
The seared Wyoming Elk chop arrived medium rare atop roasted eggplant and it paired excellently with the full bodied Massolino Barolo. Roasted rustic potatoes and truffled mac & cheese sides were served family style.
Just when we thought the evening couldn't get any better a magnificent cannoli souffle was brought to the table along with cotton candy and a mini dessert tray. It was truly a wonderful evening of food, wine, and fellowship. I enjoyed meeting new bloggers and catching up with old friends.
On November 19th, MsIndependent held a special dine around culinary crawl in the popular CityCentre. Included in the tour were stops at five fabulous places. MsIndependent was started in 2010 by Erin Creeks as way for women to bond together in a casual and social environment. Whether you are single, looking for a girl's night out, or wanting a little "me time", MsIndependent has got an event for you.
The first stop on the tour was Bowl and Barrel. This upscale bowling alley was the perfect spot to mix and mingle. Comfortable lounge seating is speckled throughout the venue if you need to just hang out and have a drink while waiting for a lane to open up. We were treated to mimosas, mini burgers, handcut fries, empanadas, and meatballs.
Stop number two was the quaint Olive and Vine. This is your one stop shop for the best infused olive oils, aged balsamic vinegars, and specialty products. In addition to oils and vinegars, we go to sample some delicious hummus made with chili pepper oil. Each participant was given their own mini bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to take home.
The next stop was the fabulous Seasons 52. They pulled out all the stops and treated us like royalty! Seated in one their many gorgeous private rooms, we were served several courses of fresh, seasonal dishes along with cocktails and wine. The dishes that really stood out were the Carmelized Pear Burrata salad and the Duck Lollipops. It was the perfect mid tour stop to relax and nosh on some amazing bites.
The next stop was Straits, a popular eatery/nightclub that features shareable Pan Asian style small plates. Chef Sean wowed us with a trio of Beef Satay, Crispy Chicken, and Honey Walnut Prawns.
The last stop of the day was at Milano Bar. Located below Radio Milano, Milano Bar is home to some of the city's best bartenders. Their handcrafted cocktail menu changes seasonally and showcases the flavors of the season. Brandon, bartender extraordinaire, didn't flinch one bit when our group of 18 took over the bar. He quickly spun into action mixing up some fabulous vodka and whiskey based cocktails.
I'm so glad I got to be a part of this wonderful event. Everything was well planned and on scheudule. CityCentre is such a phenomenal place and this was the perfect way to get a taste of some their culinary delights. Thank you MsIndependent!
I was recently invited to visit The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I have to admit it had been years since my last visit. It was a beautiful sunny day and although The Woodlands locations has such a great patio, I chose to sit inside. The menu was quite large just as I remembered it. They have over 250 items on their menu that are made fresh every day. My server informed that the prep area in the kitchen is HUGE and that all dishes are made to order.
I scanned over the list of appetizers and my eyes were instantly drawn to the Fried Macaroni and Cheese. The mac n cheese is crumb coated, fried crispy, and then served over a creamy marinara sauce. Fried mac has a tendency to be dry on the inside, but these were perfectly creamy and quite delicious.
Speaking of portions, the servings at The Cheesecake Factory are very generous, even the ones on the lunch menu. For just a second, I contemplated ordering from the Skinny Menu which features over 50 items with 590 calories or less.
For my entree, I decided on the lunch portion of the Crusted Chicken Romano with a side of Penne Alfredo. I also sampled the Almond Crusted Salmon Salad served over kale, shaved brussel sprouts, avocado, quinoa, cranberries, radishes, and tossed in a vinaigrette. Both dishes were fresh and flavorful. The lunch menu is available daily until 5 p.m. and is a great value.
Of course no trip to The Cheesecake Factory is complete without cheesecake. I couldn't decide between the Pumpkin Cheesecake and the Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake so I got one of each. The Pumpkin Cheesecake was light and fluffy. The Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake was rich and sweet and combined two of Fall's favorite desserts into one delightful bite. Both cheesecakes are available to purchase whole or by the slice. For every slice purchased, 25 cents goes to help feed America by supporting local food banks.
Eureka Heights Brewing Company celebrated their grand opening on October 15th with a Firkin Jorts Party! Guests were encouraged to wear jorts (jean shorts) and as much denim as possible. Tickets even included your very own denim koozie to slip your custom logo glass into. In addition to their usual line up of beers, ten unique casks were available for guests to sample. Wokker Texas Ranger was parked out front to make sure there was plenty for people to munch on. The large open warehouse was the perfect space to have a huge celebration and people came in droves to partake in the celebration. This was definitely one of the funniest grand openings I've been to!
My favorite beers of the day were the Buckle Bunny and the Moo Caliente Milk Stout. The Buckle Bunny is a light cream ale (4.2% ABV) that was crisp and refreshing. Great with food and the perfect beer for a warm day. I'm a huge fan of stouts and Moo Caliente (6% ABV) did not disappoint. Moo Caliente has hints of cinnamon and cayenne. For the grand opening, they played around with the flavors adding coconut, cocoa nibs, coffee, and vanilla. For me, vanilla was the best!
Eureka Heights is open Friday 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday Noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday Noon to 4 p.m. Tours are available during tap room hours. Their beer can be found around town and 32 oz. crowlers can be purchased at the brewery to take home.
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.