In and Out

The Opening and Closing of the Week: Sep. 20-26

Saying adios to an old friend, Otilia's

By Katharine Shilcutt September 26, 2014

Gulf red snapper at Paul's Kitchen, which opens this Monday.

Each Friday, Gastronaut rounds up the most notable opening and closing of the week.

Yesterday, we gave you a first look at the new eT Craft Burgers & Beer that opened in Cypress. Today, we've got a little sneak peak of the upcoming Paul's Kitchen, which is slated to open this Monday, September 29, in the space at 2502 Algerian Way which formerly housed Haven and Cove. Paul's Kitchen is the eponymous project of owner Paul Miller, who also owns the popular local chain Union Kitchen.

Paul's Kitchen
2502 Algerian Way

"This is the restaurant I have dreamed of opening my entire life," Miller stated in a press release. "With the help of my culinary team, executive chef Paul K. Lewis, sous chef Matt Lovelace and pastry chef Kelsey Hawkins, Paul’s Kitchen will be a chef-driven scratch kitchen, which uses locally sourced ingredients to create a globally inspired seasonal menu, complemented by craft cocktails and a diverse wine list."

Chef Paul Lewis most recently gained acclaim for his work at Osteria Mazzantini, where his modern Italian food drew rave reviews from our own food critic Robb Walsh, among others. Miller calls the cuisine at Paul's Kitchen "global cuisine with Southern hospitality," which—as with most menu descriptions these days—doesn't really mean much of anything, but a quick look at some Lewis's dishes reveal a very Houstonian sensibility: barbecue shrimp, a bratwurst dog with beer mustard, Gulf red snapper with andouille and a field pea ragout, steak with tater tots and green beans, and a braised pork torta with queso fresco and a cilantro-lime crema.

As for the restaurant's former tenants, Haven chef Randy Evans recently announced his new consulting business: Southern Son. His first gig will be working on a retooled menu for James Coney Island, for whom Evans once created a signature hot dog using a 44 Farms frank, jalapeño cheese bun, and his signature wild boar chili. Evans has also been working with 44 Farms as a spokesperson for the ranch's Angus beef, as well as Ocean Beach Bar & Grill in Galveston.

In closings, the stalwart Otilia's Mexican Restaurant on Long Point Rd. has been ordered to vacate the premises, according to the Houston Chronicle's Syd Kearney. There were rumors of Otilia's closing five years ago as well, although those rumors proved to be untrue in the strangest way: it turned out Otilia's owners were seeking to franchise the restaurant, not sell it.

Even back in 2009, however, the quality of food and service at Otilia's had dropped so sharply it was difficult to recognize the restaurant as the same one where I'd eaten my first "real" Mexican in Houston food with my parents in the early 1990s. Recent Yelp reviews were of the one-star variety, and a trip to Otilia's this past summer for consideration in Houstonia's best Mexican restaurants issue revealed the same fatal flaws that existed five years ago had only festered. I'll miss the old Otilia's, when it was housed in a barely-converted Whataburger, and mourn its loss—though the Otilia's I loved has been gone for many years now.


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