If all goes according to current plans, Katie Adair Barnhart and Nicholas Adair, the sister and brother behind Adair Family Restaurants, will open health-conscious Bebidas Juice, Coffee & Bites at 2606 Edloe Street on the Monday after Labor Day. The opening slated for fun, Southern-style Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors? "Mid-September," Barndhart says of the 2400 Mid Lane restaurant.
Are they crazy? According to Barnhart, she and Adair originally thought there would be two or three months between the openings. "Lucky us, permitting really didn’t do us any favors," she quips. Eloise Nichols, named for the siblings' quirky now-92-year-old grandmother, was already in the pipeline when the Edloe Street location, on the corner of Westheimer in River Oaks, became available. Having had their hearts set on that building, "We thought we would be too sad to turn it down," Barnhart remembers. So they scooped it up and began work with executive chef Joseph Stayshich, the Benjy's alum already on board for the launch of Eloise Nichols, to create a juice bar.
The concept, says Barnhart is "a joking love letter" to her husband, a "health freak" and committed juicer. Recognizing a hole in the market in that neighborhood, Barnhart and Adair had long had it on their minds to open a body-conscious eatery in the area. As the Bebidas moniker suggests, drinks, including cold-pressed juices, a matcha program and full espresso bar, will be the centerpiece.
The juices betray a chef-y spin not often seen among the hippie health set. More than one uses jalapeños for a slap of spice, (we're especially enticed by the Mahalapeno's combo of kale, cucumber, pineapple and jalapeño) while the Strawberry Blonde smoothie amps up its yogurt-bolstered pineapple, strawberry and orange flavors with a dash of curry powder.
As the "bites" in the name suggests, Barnhart says that "speed is of the essence" among dishes included on the food menu. She's especially excited about Stayshich's inclusion of temaki, cone-shaped nori rolls filled with brown rice and a range of extras—versions on the working menu include the Cali, made with everything one would expect from a California roll, and the Hippie, flavored with sundried tomato sambal, avocado, tofu and sprouts. Other options include acaï bowls, breakfast tacos and rice bowls.
This is, of course, not what the Adair siblings will be serving at Eloise Nichols. But despite the fact that the restaurant is named for a woman whose greatest culinary hits include a cake made with Oleo as a central ingredient, Barnhart says Stayshich's menu will "marry southern roots to Gulf Coast to a cleaner way of eating."
A significant segment is given over to vegetable dishes; grilled sweet potatoes with Texas feta and harissa aioli, coffee-roasted beets with local pecans and blue cheese, and grilled okra with Thai herbs and sorghum fish sauce are a few of the inventive options. There's also a raw bar, specializing in big flavors to go with ultra-fresh fish. Case in point: Snapper sashimi with local citrus, fried olives and sumac. Crab-and-avocado salad goes far beyond basic with Texas caviar, pomegranate and scallions.
But that's not to say the heartier fare of Nichols' era will be ignored—just updated. Shared starters include potted pimento cheese with Ritz crackers and house pickles, venison sausage with house-made mustard, and hot chicken. Among entrées, a version of chicken-and-dumplings that pairs chicken confit with gnocchi is sure to be a hit. Pappardelle Bolognese is made not with beef and pork but with goat. And the pork ribs? They're cured pastrami-style.
September is sure to be a blur for Barnhart, Adair and Stayshich, but there's little question that hungry Houstonians will be reaping the benefits of their hard work.