We’ve talked at length about what we lost when Hurricane Ike rolled in and waterboarded everything in its path. One of the hardest hit areas after Galveston was the resort area of Kemah, Texas. There was a wine and piano bar that we planned to visit but had only walked by a few times. Ike took that out but it has returned in a new location, with a fabulous decor, great boutique wines from small lot wineries, and one of our favorite bartenders from our post Ike haunt.
On weekends and pleasant weekday evenings just over the Kemah bridge Highway 146 traffic backs up both ways. After you turn into Kemah, you might take the left lane and crawl toward the Kemah Boardwalk. But if you take the right lane, it’s a much quicker trip to make a right at the stop sign and head south on Bradford to Madeleine’s Wine Bistro.
We met Madeleine at Chelsea Wine Bar where she was working after the hurricane destroyed her place in Kemah. As soon as she starts talking, you’ll quickly surmise she is not a native Texan. She sounds more like the long-lost sister of Ricky Gervais. A saucy redhead who knows what she likes, Madeleine Griffin manages the classy joint with her son Christopher Janousek. Also a musician, Christopher programs a wide selection of music on an impressive sound system in the early evenings, before musicians get the place rockin’.
The yellow Victorian-style house with the red door sports three distinctive rooms and an outdoor patio. Decor is more piano bar with a bit of fun, including a replica of the “Major Award” leg lamp from A Christmas Story.
We usually sit at the long bar in the main room, so we can chat with Madeleine and our favorite un-bottled Spaniard, Juan. Crystal decanters with a variety of ports sit atop the bar. There is always something special on the wine list; whether your prefer boutique New World finds or those from the Old World. Wines are priced by the bottle or by the glass, and there is something for nearly every budget. In addition, this room houses small tables and a piano surrounded by bar stools.
To the right of the entry is a tastefully appointed larger dining room, with high-backed chairs and tables for groups of four or more.
The backroom features a beautiful timeless mural, with smaller bar, over-stuffed chairs, ottoman and sofas mixed with objects d’art, antiques and a “wood-burning fireplace” comfortable even in the Texas heat. Paintings and pictures adorn the walls, but don’t count on them staying in the same place. Madeleine likes to move things about ever-so-often to keep her guests on their toes.
The menu changes nightly, but cheese and meat boards, and snack plates are always on the menu. Get there early if you want a spot at the bar, and reservations are a good idea for special events. Madeleine’s opens at 4:00 p.m. and closes at midnight on Sunday, 1:00 a.m. on week nights and 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Located at 707 Bradford, in Kemah, Texas, just south of Houston via Hwy 146. To find out more, visit their Facebook page. For more of our pictures of Madeleine’s Wine Bistro, check out Another Wine Blog’s page on Facebook!
UPDATE: Madeleine’s Wine Bistro in Kemah is closed. We really miss the place!