ALife, the lifestyle group behind restaurant and lounge concepts such as Lost & Found, Kamp, and Prospect Park, is adding another restaurant concept to their portfolio. Cofounders Mojeed Martins and Jonathan Reitzell have introduced Bungalow, a new upscale restaurant that promises to shake up Downtown. While Bungalow is currently in a soft opening phase and is taking reservations on a first-come, first-served basis, we were lucky enough to snag ourselves a sneak peek of the soon-to-be-hot spot, which will be fully open to the public at the end of the year.
Bungalow lies on the bustling corner of Main and Travis Street in the former home of Live Sports Bar & Grill (407 Main Street). ALife acquired the property a little over a year ago, and the lifestyle group has quickly transformed the space from its former sports bar glory into something entirely fresh and new.
“Bungalow Downtown has exceeded expectations in soft opening and the restaurant is looking forward to continuing to provide an elevated dining experience with our grand opening before 2023,” owners Martins and Reitzel tell Houstonia. “We look forward to the restaurant providing Downtown Houston with another highlight and another reason why Houston is a great travel and dining destination.”
Although ALife has a true knack for sports bars and lounge concepts, that theme didn’t align with Bungalow’s oeuvre. The new restaurant aims for a more luxurious experience. Bungalow has all of ALife’s usual flourishes: a unique sensory experience with a roster of vibrant libations and tasty dishes. However, the experience here is a lot less casual, so be sure to dress appropriately. To get an idea of the upscale atmosphere, the moment you arrive, you’re greeted with a glass of champagne at the hostess stand—which, we must note, is just how we think all dining experiences should start.
By definition, a bungalow is a small cottage, and the restaurant adheres to its name. The entire space is divvied into four smaller, more intimate spaces: the main dining room, an upstairs lounge, a private dining space, and a rooftop patio with a stunning view of Downtown. The interior feels warm, partly because of the greenery adorning the restaurant’s ceilings and walls. Booths at Bungalow are upholstered in a plush green velvet and gold accents abound. There’s a second-floor speakeasy-style bar hidden behind a bookshelf and a cinema marquee sits above the bar in the private dining area. Also excluding retro opulence are the craft cocktails like the B.O.F., Bungalow’s version of an old fashioned, a grapefruit gin and tonic, and an espresso martini.
The chef steering Bungalow, Aaron Kalenda, uses the same caliber of ingredients that you’ll find at other ALife properties. Still, here, the menu is a little more chef-driven. At Bungalow, Kalenda has curated a handful of dishes that speak to his Latin roots. During the restaurant’s soft opening, entrees included everything from seafood to steaks—think whole branzino, redfish with crab bacon butter, a Tomahawk ribeye, and filet mignon (topped, of course, with decadent options like foie gras and Cajun butter).
Outside the main courses, the appetizers and sides are something to marvel at: blackberry lamb ribs, wagyu meatballs, truffle fries topped with crabmeat, and the absolute must-try cream corn brulée, which makes a vegetable feel like the grandest of desserts. Speaking of which, the desserts here are an assortment of creative treats—baked Alaska is set aflame tableside, the bread pudding is reminiscent of a Shipley’s doughnut, and the key to their fan-favorite chocolate dome, is breaking its sweet caramelized shell.
For more information on Bungalow, visit bungalowdining.com.