Not so long ago, it seemed like there was a pop-up dinner every weekend in Houston. Along with food trucks, the pop-up dinner allowed experimentation without committing to a lease: chefs could experiment on willing audiences before opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant of their own. Most pop-up dinners featured young chefs who didn't have their own place yet, but were building support for a concept through wildly creative meals and one-on-one interaction with diners. This is how Justin Yu cultivated an audience for Oxheart, through his popular Money Cat dinners; this is how Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan garnered the press and praise that would lead to The Pass & Provisions, via their Just August series.

Pop-Up Dinner with Teddy Lopez and Johnny Wesley
January 16, 9 p.m.
Glitter Karaoke
2621 Milam
713-526-4900
glitterkaraoke.com

And although it would seem the pop-up dinner fad has faded, it hasn't—it's more low-key than ever, a welcome fact for those overwhelmed by how quickly the pop-up dinners of a couple years ago sold out, or how pressingly packed each one was. 

The ongoing Thursday night series at Glitter Karaoke is a testament to this calmer, gentler version of the pop-up dinner. It's different in another way, too: almost all of the chefs who cook at the Glitter Karaoke pop-up dinners are already gainfully employed in popular restaurants throughout Houston.

These dinners are opportunities for chefs to collaborate with friends from other restaurants (and sometimes other cities). They're opportunities for chefs to experiment with new or inventive dishes that would never work on their regular menus. And they're opportunities for diners to try a dish they may never see anywhere else—the ultimate in ephemeral dining—and for a lot less than they'd pay at a restaurant.

This Thursday's pop-up dinner at Glitter Karaoke features two steakhouse chefs best known for their work with beef: Teddy Lopez of Killen's Steakhouse and Johnny Wesley of Mr. Peeples. The two are planning a four-course menu completely devoid of beef, however, save an intriguing dish of bone marrow-enhanced risotto:

  • Duck confit tostada with blueberry pico de gallo
  • Smoked pork rib with kimchi apple slaw
  • Bone marrow risotto
  • Fried carrot cake "Twinkies"

Prices are still being determined, but past pop-up dinners have allowed diners to purchase courses individually for around $7 each, or purchase the entire meal for roughly $25. Dinner begins serving at 9 p.m. and runs late into the evening, until 2 a.m.—that is, if there's any of Lopez and Wesley's food left by then.

 

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