Special Occasion Restaurants

Celebrate Out of the Box at Up and The Pass

This week: how to spice up a post work-out date, a bridal shower lunch and a milestone anniversary.

By Megha Tejpal April 15, 2015

Workout and a smoothie is the new dinner and a movie.

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Post Work-Out Date

Dinner and a movie is so five years ago—in fact, more like 50 years ago. Dating these days involves anything from couples' "painting with a twist" to biking the Heights trail and grabbing a bite along the way. Whether it's a desire for something different or an attempt to stay active while being social, people are looking for more unique ways to spend time together. The daytime work-out date is a great example: enjoy a great jog, bike ride, or work-out with someone, and end up chatting away at Smoothie King or Subway afterward. But with so many fun and healthy snack bars popping up around Houston, why not spice things up?

Beet Box Blend Bar (try saying that five times fast!) is one of the most dynamic snack bars that has emerged in the past year in Houston. Located in the heart of River Oaks on West Gray near Shepherd, it has quickly become a popular stop for bike riders and work-out partners thanks to its close proximity to many area gyms. The bright and cheery decor, friendly staff and ample seating—both inside and on the patio—make it a pleasant place to enjoy with a date after a grueling work-out. And more than anything else, the menu is a health nut's dream come true.

The Thin Elvis at Beet Box Blend Bar, made with spinach, grapes, banana, almonds and almond milk.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Many people confuse Beet Box with a juice bar, while it is in fact a blend bar—the difference being the ingredients used and the way the drinks are prepared. Beet Box uses only organic fruits and vegetables in their blends, and offers additions and upgrades such as dates, almonds, avocado, coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds and much more.

Menu items include "fruitful blends," lighter, sweeter drinks containing mostly fruits; "all-in blends," which can be considered hearty meal replacement drinks and contain large amounts of dietary fiber and protein; and "out of the box blends," thick beverages loaded with fruits, vegetables and superfoods like kale and avocado. And in addition to the blended beverages, you can choose from a variety of nutritious dry snacks, a soup of the day, cold-drinks and grab-and-go salads. To be honest, after trying one of these super-blends, you may not care that they serve anything else. I was so blown away by the "Thin Elvis", it wasn't until my fourth visit that I tried anything else! You heard it hear first: Blended is the new black.

Bridal Shower Lunch

Wedding season is officially here and with that comes bridal gowns, bridal cakes and bridal showers. And with so many Houston restaurants making the extra space for private and semi-private rooms, it is easier than ever to host a bridal shower or bridesmaid luncheon in a restaurant. You can be assured that all of the details will be taken care of by the restaurant staff, while the mimosas and bellinis flow freely.

Having been one myself, I know brides can be choosy when it comes to...well, everything regarding their wedding. A restaurant choice for the bridal shower is no different; the venue must be classy and elegant, serve good food but also offer lighter fare, and the cocktails/mocktails should not only be part of the menu, but an accessory for every woman in attendance.

Image: Megha Tejpal

The place that always comes to mind for just such a divine daytime affair is Up Restaurant in Highland Village. Though equally magnificent by evening, the pristine dining room is the perfect daytime venue for a bridal shower, with sprawling views of downtown through large, sunny picture large windows. The unique entrance to Up Restaurant reflects its name: an elevator leading three floors up.

The restaurant features a private dining room for up to 60 guests and a semi-private room for up to 20. Up also houses a full bar with a stunning, spherical crystal chandelier glittering overhead. Along with a customizeable food menu, the team at Up can even provide signature cocktails for your special event. With dishes like seafood puttanesca, grilled tuna quinoa and Grand Marnier crème brûlée—and cocktails to pair—it is no wonder brides and their bridal parties enjoy hosting lunches here.

Milestone Anniversary

There are few restaurants that fit the mold for what you want when celebrating a milestone occasion. You want that perfect ambience, dynamic food choices beyond the norm and an experience that leaves an everlasting memory in your mind even after the taste of your meal itself has faded. After all, milestone moments come along but once in a blue moon and they should be celebrated as such.

Gentlemen, you know how us ladies feel about milestone anniversaries and how much pressure it is to find the perfect place to celebrate. Luckily for you, not only has Houston become the sort of metropolis that attracts aspiring young chefs and restaurateurs, our dining scene is now catering to an excited crowd of adventurous diners who crave something bold.

Image: Megha Tejpal

The Pass is that perfect restaurant for your milestone anniversary: a lavish restaurant hidden behind a secret door inside a bustling restaurant—what could be more mysterious and romantic? Most Houstonians have experienced Provisions, the trendy yet more casual companion restaurant to The Pass. Few have ventured beyond that secret door into The Pass's distinct dining room in bold black and white.

An open kitchen with a view of the action and a serving staff catering to your every need guarantees an evening of theater and decadence. Each evening's meal offers a choice of a five-course or eight-course dinner, with your choice of a meat or vegetarian menu. From the moment you sit down, your journey at The Pass will take you to places you have never been in Houston. Though the restaurant generously features wine and cocktail pairings with each course, guests are also invited to experiment with bubbles from the champagne cart that's pushed around the room.

From drinks all the way down to dessert, every dish from chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan will wow you—and, more importantly, your loved one. And between the artistic look of the dishes and the sophisticated flavors of the food, The Pass manages to intensify the romance of the evening purely through its deftly created cuisine.


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