We were excited to hear that Trader Joe's, the California-based specialty grocery company, was heading to the Houston area. We were even more excited to find out that their first Houston-area location would be in the Woodlands, across the street from our neighborhood HEB.
We've been keeping an eye on the progress, and it's been good. The building is complete, the sign is up, and now the work is underway getting the interior of the store ready for business. They're making good progress.
We're anxious for them to complete the store, so we can check out the unique product selection. We'll keep you updated on the progress.
JerryBuilt Burgers, the hot new fast-casual burger place, has announced that the grand opening of its Woodlands location will be this Saturday, March 31, at 11am. The Woodlands location is located just off the ring road around the Woodlands Mall, near the Container Store.
JerryBuilt Burgers is a locally owned chain that features high quality ingredients that are locally sourced when possible. They serve Niman Ranch beef, Blue Bell ice cream, and buns from Three Brothers Bakery, for example.
We previewed JerryBuilt's first location on Holcombe, and were very impressed with the thoughtfullness and attention to detail behind this burger concept. When we visited they were still fine-tuning the burger, so we're looking forward to seeing how they've tweaked their creation.
|Cherie Johnson (Photo: IMDB)|
You may know Cherie Johnson, best known for her roles on situation comedies such as Punky Brewster, Family Matters, The Parkers and her leading role in the movie I Do.I Did. Ms. Johnson is now ready to make a name for herself as restaurateur. She has enlisted the help of close friend Janice Wright, founder of Houston 411 Magazine and Kay Matthews with Extraordinary Cakes.
"These entrepreneurs fill the void in public interests in investing in these areas either from apathy or lack of available funds" stated Mr. Means. "I believe these ladies have the recipe for success in this venture and in future opportunities. This belief has led me and my investment group to support their activities" continued Means.
We look forward to checking it out.
Datt's It | 10101 Bissonnet | Houston 77036
Hubbell & Hudson is one of the unique venues that really adds to the great quality of life in the Woodlands. From the gourmet market to the Viking cooking school, H & H is one place that every foodie should visit. And if you're not in the mood to cook, the Bistro is arguably the finest restaurant in the Woodlands, and executive chef Austin Simmons has elevated their already impressive cuisine to new levels.
We'd read cryptic press releases about a new restaurant being developed in the Woodlands, and wondered what was behind all the mystery. Called Zunum, it's a new concept being launched on Research Forest within the city of Shenandoah. The team behind Zunum isn't new to the restaurant business, owning Russo's Pizzeria.
The concept is a unique one. Zunum is a place for families, catering to both children and adults while not expecting either to compromise. For the adults, Zunum offers them a place to "relax and enjoy a gourmet meal in an adult environment", while the kids can "play, be active, and behave as kids in a safe environment".
That's the promise. Short of attaching a Chuck E. Cheese to Tony's, how would you pull this off? On a drizzly Tuesday, we went to find out.
Zunum's execution is tasteful, and shows a clear vision. The front of the house is a modern, airy restaurant, featuring dishes aimed at an adult palate. It's a bright, attractive space, featuring modern decor and muted earth tones.
|The dining room at Zunum|
Behind a glass wall are multiple supervised play areas designed for kids of different ages. Cleverly avoiding the one-size-fits-none issue, the first play area features soft surface, active toys, and a bright, fun environment for toddlers and early school-aged kids. The area is themed with creatively imagined creatures, each with its own back story; I expect that at least one will appeal to every young child.
|Little kids' play area at Zunum|
The bigger kids (up to age 12) have their own space, with an active climbing area and a zone featuring multiple state-of-the-art game consoles. There's also a private party room complete with an interactive projection game system sure to fascinate both kids and adults.
|Big kids' play area at Zunum|
Parents can keep an eye on the little darlings via a panoramic window between the play areas and the dining room; thankfully there's a door that should keep the roar to a minimum.
Unlike other places that cater to kids, Zunum has a wide variety of inventive dishes that won't make the grown-ups think they're in the penalty box. Beer and wine are available. From seafood to salads, panini, burgers, crepes and pastas, there are dishes to appeal to almost anyone. There is, of course, a dedicated kids' menu with the usual suspects and also a variety of healthier options.
On their recent soft opening, we sampled several of their dishes, and management graciously picked up the tab. Since the restaurant isn't officially open, this isn't a full review, but rather a preview of what's to be offered when the doors open.
We started with a couple of appetizers. Our favorite was Zunum's unique spin on the traditional Italian bruschetta. The crunchy Italian bread was topped with a generous portion of marinated tomatoes and shaved parmesan cheese, but the flavor profile was more southwestern than Italian, a surprise that we found delightful.
|Bruschetta at Zunum|
Next up was Zunum's tuna tartare. Chunks of fresh tuna were bound in a creamy dill sauce with avocado, with wasabi drizzles on the plate to spice things up.
|Tuna Tartare at Zunum|
We then ventured into the entrees. Zunum's version of parmesan crusted chicken caught us by surprise; instead of breaded chicken with the traditional marinara, the grilled chicken breast was topped with artichokes in a creamy mushroom sauce. It was served with chunks of potato and gently grilled asparagus.
|Parmesan Crusted Chicken at Zunum|
We couldn't avoid a the epic, 1 pound Zunum Burger that was featured on the menu, even though it contains two or three times the amount of meat we usually prefer in a burger. Up for the challenge, we put in our order, and this behemoth appeared:
Yes, folks, that's a 1 pound burger patty parked on a bun the size of a personal pizza. We'd forgotten to mention cheese, so a quick spin back into the kitchen resulted in a lovely glaze of melty, high-quality American cheese. The burger was so huge that we cut it in half for maneuverability, and we were impressed by the meat's perfect medium preparation.
|Inside the Zunum Burger|
Other than its enormous proportion, the burger was exactly what we hope for in a burger; nicely handled and seasoned beef, good quality cheese nicely melted, and fresh, crisp veggies. The only flaw was a bottom bun that simply wasn't up to the task of supporting a pound of juicy beef; we wonder if Mrs. Baird's will consider titanium reinforcements. Maybe not.
All in all, we're intrigued by Zunum's unique concept. We believe that a restaurant that offers to delight both kids and parents has a bright future in the Woodlands, and we look forward to the grand opening and seeing how crowds react to this unique restaurant.
Zunum | 1620 Research Forest Drive | The Woodlands, Texas 77381 | 281-419-5400
New York City's famed Le Cirque, named by Gayot as one of the Top 40 Restaurants in the USA, is bringing its show on the road, and Houston will be one of the stops this spring. On April 13, the main dining room of the Downtown Club at Plaza will host this culinary classic. Executive chef Olivier Reginensi will be overseeing the travelling kitchen.
|Le Cirque's Creme Brulee (photo credit: Le Cirque)|
The $150 prix fixe menu will deliver a three-course meal with wine pairings, and a copy of the biography of Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque. Featured selections will include Le Cirque favorites like filet of beef, tuna tartare, and porcini risotto, and of course their famed Creme Brulee will be offered.
For reservations, call 800-402-3933 or click here.
(via New York Times)