In and Out

The Opening and Closing of the Week: Sep. 27-Oct. 3

Of museums and the Museum District

By Katharine Shilcutt October 3, 2014

Little Bigs opened its current—and soon-to-close—location in 2009.

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

Yesterday, we let you know about a name swap—not an opening, and not a closing—in the Heights, were the upstairs restaurant at Heights General Store has rebranded itself as Harold's. Today, we look at another swap of sorts at Little Bigs in Montrose.

Fans of the slider joint have long lamented the lack of parking in the little lot behind Little Bigs. Owners Bryan Caswell and Bill Floyd, aware of that issue and others (including only a handful of indoor seats and a lack of liquor license), announced this week that they'll be picking up the Little Bigs operation and moving it down the street to a new address in the Museum District: 4621 Montrose Blvd., which currently houses the now-closed Chelsea Grill.

If you've been paying attention, this move means that a previously annouced plan for the space—which would have seen Caswell and Floyd partner with pitmaster Ronnie Killen to open an Inner Loop barbecue joint—is now off. This does mean, however, that Little Bigs will finally get to have a liquor license (which means real booze in The Dude, its signagture white Russian milkshake) and plenty of indoor as well as outdoor seating. The Houston Chronicle's Greg Morago reports that Caswell and Floyd are already making the updates and renovations necessary to transform The Chelsea Grill into the brand-new Little Bigs, which plans to open on Halloween, October 31. No word yet on whether the grand opening will include a costume party. (It totally should. I would go dressed as The Dude.)

Bistro Menil
1513 W. Alabama St.

In other opening news, Bistro Menil had its first day of service this past Wednesday, October 1. The restaurant is housed in a bungalow across the street Montrose's Menil Collection, providing patrons at the free museum a nearby dining option other than the food trucks that routinely offer lunch service each day. The bistro describes itself as offering "European-inspired American fare" by chef Greg Martin, who's well known in the Houston food community for his work at Cafe Annie and later as corporate chef for Cafe Express.

Martin maintains a blog where he documents his food travels across Europe, in case you needed further proof that his appointment as executive chef at a "European-inspired" American bistro was a smart one. The highly visible Bistro Menil has potential to transform the way other museums in Houston offer dining choices to their customers (I'm looking at you, Houston Museum of Natural Science and the McDonald's that squats inside of you) with a thoughtful menu of elegant, thoughtful dishes that complement the collection housed across the street, dishes such as grilled quail with pomegranate molasses and flatbread topped with Parmesan, fig, and thinly-sliced jamón.

Bistro Menil is currently open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, with a weekend brunch set to start serving soon. Head back here next week when Gastronaut blogger Joanna O'Leary will have a full first look at the suave new space.

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