Usually when there's buzz about a hot new gastropub, it's a given that it's in the Loop. The Branch is an exception. It's smack dab in the middle of what some lovingly call "the Dirty Branch," but at 7710 Long Point Road, it is an easy five-minute drive from I-10. And Kyle Pierson, chef Madeline Cabezut and Amanda Mixon’s brainchild may kickstart a facelift for the restaurant/bar scene in Spring Branch.
When asked why Pierson decided to locate the Branch off Long Point, he responded, “I just wanted a place I could hang out in. Spring Branch is my home.” Paying respect to what came before, Pierson has keepsakes adorning the walls, including framed newspaper clippings and a sign for Otilia’s, the previous tenant. Tributes do not end there—Cabezut serves her own spin on Otilia's famous chiles en nogada.
The 26 beers on tap are mostly devoted to Texas natives, including Houston favorites such as Brash, No Label, 8th Wonder and St. Arnold. There's not a single InBev beer in sight. In addition to the beers on tap the Branch offers "Grandpa Bob’s Fridge," housing $4 cans, all of which are easy sipping for those lazy Sundays. Not into beer? Whiskeys include Angel’s Envy, Woodford Reserve, Glenfiddich and Johnny Walker Blue Label.
The Branch offers a solid menu to appease any foodie, vegetarian and omnivore alike. The chiles en nogada (pork stuffed Poblano peppers) at the top of the menu are sure to delight; as are the Bulgogi Bistecca, sirloin tips in a sweet Korean marinade; and the mac 'n' cheese made with smoked Gouda beer sauce. The H-Town Cheesesteak (made with marinated sirloin tips) and Peanut Butter Patty Melt (the peanut butter is spicy and it's served on cornbread) will put anyone in a satisfied food coma. If sharing is your thing, there’s the gochujang beef jerky, carnitas sliders and the Double Dog Dare Ya—two six-inch hot dogs, each with a different set of toppings. Vegetarians have an entire section of the menu dedicated to them. They'll get a kick from the avocado, jicama and cucumber salad in lemon-chile vinaigrette; tofu-tomato salad, made with heirloom tomatoes in a balsamic-soy vinaigrette; or carrot hummus.
“Spring Branch is right in the middle, on one side you have Memorial and upscale bars and restaurants, on the other you have the dive bars. There is no in between,” says Pierson. The Branch could be that in-between for the foodies and craft beer drinkers that don’t necessarily want to make the trek inside the Loop for a good time.