After a 17-Month Renovation Post-Hurricane Ike, Houston’s Beloved Culinary Gem Once Again Welcomes Guests on February 16, 2010
Beginning on February 16, 2010 Brennan’s will be open for dinner from 5:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
On Monday, February 22, 2010 Brennan’s will begin serving lunch weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
As of February 27, 2010 brunch will be offered every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Brennan’s legendary Sunday Jazz Brunch will kick off on February 28, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forty-three years ago (incidentally, about the same time the New Orleans Saints began playing in the NFL), the Brennan family of New Orleans embarked on a journey to bring its renowned culture of Southern hospitality to the people of Houston and opened the doors of Brennan’s of Houston, one of America’s most beloved dining destinations and the forerunner in serving Texas Creole Cuisine.
In September 2009, a two-alarm fire that occurred during Hurricane Ike engulfed the historic building in flames. After 17 months of renovation, Brennan’s of Houston once again invites its friends, old and new, to gather around its tables on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 to celebrate its re-opening. “We didn’t burn down, we burned up,” says co-owner Alex Brennan-Martin. “We are thrilled that we were able to save more than 75 percent of the original structure and can’t wait to welcome our guests back to our historic home. We’re looking forward to another 43 years of creating lasting memories for our guests.”
Led by Commander’s Palace Family of Restaurants co-owners Alex Brennan-Martin, his sister, Ti Adelaide Martin, and their cousin, Lally Brennan, Brennan’s has survived floods, hurricanes, and economic downturns, has taken a direct hit by a tornado, and has been engulfed by a major fire. Throughout its existence, Brennan’s has weathered each of those storms by remaining focused on the family’s heritage and staying passionate about its signature Texas Creole cuisine and creating memories for its patrons. To that end, Brennan’s 17-month restoration reflects family’s soulful belief that tradition truly matters, including the replacement of a 40-year-old oak tree which was destroyed by the fire, with new twin oaks, so that Brennan’s guests will continue to be shaded on the restaurant’s welcoming courtyard.
The Road to the Reopening
Long before the Brennan’s put their name on the building in 1967, it was a Houston landmark. Designed by architect John F. Staub to house his architectural offices downstairs and the original home of the Houston Junior League upstairs, the building’s façade was intended to evoke an image of the Vieux Carré, representing an almost identical replication of Don José Faurie’s mansion in New Orleans that houses an unaffiliated branch of the Brennan family’s eponymous restaurant that is still there today. Brennan’s of Houston’s building is recognized as one of the city’s most beautiful structures, having inspired the neighboring development of an area that is often touted as Houston’s French Quarter.
The Johnson Studio of Atlanta – in partnership with Houston-based companies Studio RED, Linbeck Construction, and Pin Oak Interests – lovingly restored the original John F. Staub 1930 structure.
“As we began the clean-up of our beloved old home after the fire, we uncovered many of the original design features that were covered in the 1966 remodeling of the building by our family,” says Brennan-Martin.
“Our goal was always to preserve the historic structure but we also wanted bring it ‘back to the future,’ as it were.”
Though the interior of the building had to be gutted and refurbished, including a new roof, floors, and windows, the most iconic building elements were maintained. The Terms of Endearment Room, the restaurant’s columns, its vaulted ceilings in the second floor ballroom, and the popular chef’s table and dining room have been restored.
Ninety percent of the exterior façade was maintained, and some of the original design elements from the 1930 building were rediscovered. The design exposed the original brick in much of the building, as well as opened up many of the arched windows that had been shuttered in the original family renovations, creating a brand new dining room on the entrance corner (which is now called the Staub Room, after the famous architect of the building) in addition to The Courtyard Bar, a new addition that overlooks the restaurant’s original courtyard fountain.
Above the Courtyard Bar is the Solarium and Little Room – new dining rooms that take their inspiration from rooms in Bayou Bend (a historic home, also built by Staub, that is now part of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts) – featuring aerial views of the Courtyard Bar and wood floors painted with a deep chocolate brown and white checkerboard pattern.
Upstairs, guests will find recreated versions of the Wine Room and Ballroom (now called The Garden Room), both of which have retained much of the Old South feel and flair for which Brennan’s has long been known. Downstairs, Brennan’s famous Kitchen Table remains the centerpiece of the kitchen. Each of the rooms offers a distinctive décor that harkens back to some of the Brennan family’s original dining rooms, though all are executed in a contemporary manner, further reinforcing the restaurant’s new, “back to the future” atmosphere.
In the Kitchen: Executive Chef Danny Trace
Brennan’s of Houston evokes the Crescent City in not only its architectural details, but also its cuisine, which is both inventive and traditional, and its culture of hospitality that radiates from the inside.
The Brennan’s kitchen has explored the vast spectrum of Creole’s evolution in the “Bayou City”. Cultural influences in South Texas and an abundance of fresh produce unique to the region have provided more than a few opportunities for delicious Texas variations on time-honored Louisiana themes.
Danny Trace was appointed executive chef in November 2009. An integral, ten-year veteran of the Commander’s Palace Family of Restaurants, Trace most recently served as executive chef of the group’s newest outpost, Commander’s Palace & the On The Rocks Bar at HarborWalk Village in Destin, Fla. and was previously at the helm of Café Adelaide in New Orleans.
At Brennan’s, Trace has artfully balanced his menu with modern Creole cooking and Brennan’s signature, ever-evolving Texas Creole cuisine. In so doing, he digs into his well of knowledge with the playful and spirit-influenced cuisine he honed at Café Adelaide in New Orleans, and the “Floribbean” style he created in Destin.
“Guests will still be able to enjoy their longtime favorites but I hope they’ll try some of our new things, too,” says Chef Trace. “I’ve been so fortunate to have rare opportunities come my way and I feel as though it has all led up to this.”
Brennan’s of Houston’s menu, bursting with passion for local and regional product, offers a distinctive take on Texas Creole fare.
Soups and gumbos, such as the famed Turtle Soup ($8.50), are true to Brennan’s heritage,
with reinvigorated classics like:
Bourbon Molasses Lacquered Bobwhite Quail with Foie Gras Apple Stuffing, Tasso Braised Sprouts,
Sunny Side Up Quail Egg and Basil Hayden Bourbon ($36)
Blue Crab Stuffed Texas Flounder with Herb Roasted Oyster Mushrooms, Melted Leeks, Triple Cream Brie and Chardonnay Fumet ($39)
Veal Chop Tchoupitoulas with Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Caramelized Shallots, Swiss Chard and Oyster Mushrooms with Honey Green Peppercorn Glaze ($39)
Blue Crab and Leek Bread Pudding with Blue Crab Saffron Cream, Herb Roasted Oyster Mushrooms and Atchafalaya Basin Choupique Caviar ($12)
Dirty Duck and Foie Gras Sliders with Chicory Coffee Braised Duck Debris, Mirliton Pickles and Foie Gras Fondue with Sweet Potato Chips ($13)
Desserts evoke traditional Louisiana style, which is to say they are rich, velvety creations of pure indulgence. Banana’s Foster (a Brennan family invention, $7) leads a list so tempting, diners are wise to plan their preceding courses accordingly.
Classic New Orleans cocktails from Courtyard Bar and wine selections from the restaurant’s award-winning selection – some of which was salvaged from the pre-fire inventory – will complement the dining experience.
About Brennan’s of Houston
The Brennan’s of Houston kitchen has explored the vast spectrum of Creole’s evolution in the “Bayou City.”
Cultural influences in South Texas and an abundance of fresh produce unique to the region have provided ample opportunities for delicious Texas variations on time-honored Louisiana themes. Along the way, the passionate Brennan’s team has received accolades establishing the restaurant as one of the finest in the city. Awards such as Exxon Mobil’s Four-Star designation in 2000, and a nod from restaurant reporter John Mariani in 1997, who called former Executive Chef and General Manager Carl Walker “one of America’s most influential chefs”, are just two such accomplishments Brennan’s counts on its list of accolades. Brennan’s has also been regularly rated among Houston’s “Best” and “Most Popular” restaurants in the Zagat Survey.
BRENNAN’S OF HOUSTON
3300 Smith Street
Houston, TX 77006
(Source – Brennan’s Press Release)