They say you cannot replace a good hairdresser or bartender. That also goes for a good restaurateur. Restaurateur extraordinaire Madeleine Griffin and son Christopher Janoušek have a new venture near Houston, Texas. It’s called Soho Kitchen and Lounge.
Set up in the former Coffee Oasis location at 4950 NASA 1 in Seabrook, SoHo Kitchen and Lounge is now in the process of Madeleine’s magical renovations. She tells us a wrap-around bar and open kitchen concept is in the works. During the wait for beverage licensing, the place is BYOB with a reasonable corkage per bottle.
We first met Madeleine just after Hurricane Ike. Her Kemah restaurant destroyed, she was consulting at Chelsea Wine Bar while a new Kemah place was in the works. We were thrilled when she opened Madeleine’s in a cute old house in Kemah, that later the area’s infamous land subsidence got the best of.
The Cock & Bull was all class with great food, wonderful service, and beautiful decor with Madeleine and Chris in charge. (They are no longer affiliated with the venue.) The major challenge with the location is a blind curve entrance and lack of parking — which invariably grows in demand whenever the mother and son pair take over a spot.
Thankfully, SoHo Kitchen & Lounge takes care of that problem with a perfect spot in the Arlan’s Market Center at NASA 1 and Kirby Drive. There you have easy access and plenty of parking.
We gathered a group there last night. With only a few hours’ notice of simply “We’re stopping by with about 10-12 people,” Madeleine and Chef Daniel Bell put together an incredible Tasting Menu for our group. She had no idea what wines we were bringing (although she does know our preferences) and we brought in only a collection of heavier reds.
But the dishes paired perfectly with the wines! Sure, I could have run home for some whites and a dessert wine or two — but there was simply no need!
With a selection of amuse-bouche like brie-filled fig and chicken sausage with Asiago; shaved smoked salmon fettuccine; arugula salad with mandarin and prosciutto; an intermezzo of fruit, meat and cheeses; delicate puff pastry with blue cheese-topped roasted tomato; chicken satay with homemade peanut sauce; chorizo and pulled pork with corn salsa; flat-iron steak with sautéed mushrooms and pesto — our mouths couldn’t have been happier!
Even the finale of caramelized orange slice with sweet cream and strawberry tinged with freshly chopped basil and drizzled with balsamic worked!
Our BYOB wines for the evening included Bedrock Wine Company 2011 North Coast Syrah, Domaine du Coulet Matthieu Barret 2012 Côtes du Rhône “Petit Ours Brun” (100% Syrah), Stark Wine Company 2009 Eaglepoint Ranch Mendocino County Syrah, 2010 Cosa Obra Proprietary Red from Sonoma County (85% Syrah 15% Grenache) a 2009 Château Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz and a 2009 Sportoletti Assisi Rosso Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. When our bottles were running low, Joe and Charles ran over to Arlan’s to add Chateau St. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Rodney Strong 2011 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2011 SIMI Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our wine selections from Australia, Italy, France, Washington State and Northern California are priced from about $18 to $40 Retail (about $50 – $100 Restaurant) and range from widely distributed to small-production, direct from the winery. Most were rated 90+ and some were organic or biodynamic. All were excellent food wines.
Our group for the evening included some our regulars for First Fridays: Clear Lake area residents Charles Chang, Irene Chan and Chris Davila and BeBe and Rick Watkins. Urban Wineauxs Iris Allen and Donna Gant drove down from Houston to join us. Many thanks to Irene Chan for the fabulous foodie photography!
Soho Kitchen and Lounge is located about 30 minutes south of Downtown Houston on East NASA Road 1 in Seabrook, Texas. They currently serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Coffee is served all day and they are presently BYOB until they obtain their wine and beer certificate. The space is under renovations and we cannot wait to give you updates as it develops.