Each Friday, Gastronaut rounds up the most notable opening and closing of the week.
Despite a nationwide shortage of line cooks and other service industry staffers, a slate of high-profile restaurants (Hunky Dory, State of Grace, Bernadine's, Pour Society, The Del, Foreign Correspondents, etc.) is scheduled to open over the next few months, which means things are about to get even more interesting in Houston. The latest of those high-profile joints is Southern Goods, currently in its soft-opening stage at 632 W. 19th St. in the Heights as it tests menu items on eager diners.
Southern Goods is a collaboration between several of Houston's most talented front- and back-of-house folks, including owner Charles Bishop (the man behind modern classics Liberty Station and Cottonwood), executive chef Lyle Bento (the former sous chef at Underbelly), chef de cuisine J.D. Woodward (who transformed the menu at Goro & Gun before it reformatted itself into Moving Sidewalk) and sous chef Patrick Feges (he of the wildly popular Feges BBQ pop-ups). It's a team that has the potential to be the Phi Slamma Jamma of cooks, especially if the modern Southern cuisine they're turning out is any indication.
A recent preview dinner included fried quail with collard greens and bite-sized biscuits; a braised beef shank from 44 Farms in Cameron, Tex.; headcheese tortellini; chawanmushi (yes, the Japanese savory egg custard) with Louisiana caviar; and banana pudding for dessert. Southern Goods doesn't have a menu posted online yet, however, so there's no telling if any of these dishes are up for grabs on the night you visit. Though the restaurant had to close temporarily yesterday for some minor electrical issues, it will be open once again tonight for dinner starting at 4 p.m. Reservations are available for parties of six or larger by calling 713-409-4888. Everyone else, you're on your own, so show up early if you want a seat.
Electrical issues were also initially to blame for keeping Commonwealth closed for the last week at 4601 Washington Ave. However, CultureMap reports today that entirely different issues are actually responsible for the restaurant's closure. Owner Thomas Kolodziej tells Eric Sandler that Commonwealth is undergoing a rebranding after parting ways with chef Michael Sanguinetti, whose food was apparently too high-concept for the area.
Our own restaurant critic took issue with Commonwealth's initial direction, citing the phrase "upscale-casual"—a phrase the restaurant used to describe itself—as a little too confusing to work. When it reopens, perhaps as Commonwealth, perhaps as something else, look for a restaurant offering more "accessible" food in larger portions. (Not that we're exactly lacking as a city in that last department.)