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May 2014 - Houston

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MAY | PAGE 14 | 2014 Wayne Smith Jewels at the St. Regis, 1919 Briar Oaks Lane, 713.524.0100, Drexel House Eatery & Wine Bar, Highland Village, 3974 Westheimer Road, 713.960.0501 RESTAURANT INTO SUMMER WI TH MORE TIME TO SHOP A CHARMING BOÎTE FOR JEWELS WITH TAKE A TRIP TO A CANDY SHOP AND END THE MAY SENDS US SLIDING CHARACTER, TRY REDFISH COOKED SOUTHERN WITH BUTTERBEAN SUCCOTASH, In 1987, Tasti-D-Lite launched its light dairy dessert in Manhattan. Just a couple of years ago, the concept arrived in Highland Village when Aaron Webster opened a franchise there. Now the tables have turned, and Webster has reinvented the former sweet shop as Drexel House Eatery & Wine Bar. The conversion from quick-service creamery to clean, contemporary wine bar came care of styling by designer Julie McGarr of Brasserie 19 fame. With just a handful of restaurants in this ever-expanding shopping center, Drexel — named for its address — is a nice respite for a glass of wine and plate of charcuterie and cheeses, or perhaps an espresso and breakfast bite before you face the madding crowds at Apple's Genius Bar. It's even open continuously through breakfast, lunch and dinner. Martin Korson selected the often unheard-of small boutique wines and beers listed on the chalkboards; the former can be sipped in three-, six- or 12-ounce pours. While Drexel's small plates aren't exactly tapas-sized, the ambitious dishes are successful. We hope they'll keep tinkering judiciously in the kitchen and hit upon more flavor pairings we'll be anxious to try at this little place intent on finding its chic new footing. Laurann Claridge WAYNE SMITH'S RESPLENDENT RESETTING JENNY ANTILL DAY WITH SUMMER WINES AND CHEESE. I n advance of the hustle and bustle of development looming large over Uptown Park, Wayne Smith has permanently decamped to the Saint Regis hotel off San Felipe, where he transitions into the first-floor jewel of a boutique in the lobby. Immediately to your right upon entering from the motor court (where one can valet park free of charge — Smith validates), the jewelry gent's new surrounds couldn't be more fitting. He and his team of three continue to deal in fine vintage and contemporary jewels and watches, as well as custom commissions and pieces designed under Smith's own name. Denny Lyons designed the interiors, integrating the slate-tone Venetian glass chandelier that held court in the previous locale as the aesthetic anchor of the new space. It now hangs resplendently from a hexagonal alcove in the center of the ceiling and is the tonal basis for the shop's sumptuous grass-cloth wall coverings, mohair chairs and silk-taffeta curtains. In approximately 600 square feet, Smith has neatly integrated built-in cases and a vitrine to display a sampling of glittering wares, including a 16th-century emerald broach holding court with a pair of stunning Deco diamond clips. The abundant glamour of it all calls to mind visions of the 1932 film Grand Hotel — with jewels taking the leading roles, mind you. Seth Vaughan Wayne Smith 16th-Century Spanish 24K gold and emerald brooch Punk's Simple Southern Food, Rice Village, 5212 Morningside, 713.524.7865, PUNK'S ROCKS A fter nearly two years in development and months of construction, the much-anticipated Punk's Simple Southern Food has opened its screened-porch doors. The fourth concept by Clark Cooper Concepts (whose roster includes the popular Ibiza, Coppa and Brasserie 19 restaurants) reflects not only its Southern roots and the nickname of its namesake, Charles "Punk" Clark, but also charming chef Brandi Key's memories of growing up in North Texas, cooking at her mama's and grandmama's knees. Designer Julie McGarr has conjured a stylized Southern eatery inside and out, with wide-plank hardwoods, taxidermy trophies hung amidst rusted iron and crystal light fixtures, mismatched outdoor chairs and the trappings of many excursions to the fields at Round Top. Chef Key shines with humble fare, not masked as anything but the much loved stuff of hearty Sunday suppers, from her grandmother's chilly deviled eggs to her mama's meatloaf made unabashedly with ketchup because, in Key's own words, "My mom made it that way, and it was so good there's no reason to change it." Playful takes abound on this comfort-food menu, from loaded tater tots (a riff made of rice flavored with bacon, chives, sour cream — all the things that load a good baked potato, $9) to the biscuit bar (coming soon) featuring Key's fluffy buttermilk biscuits four ways, from ham and jam to "crawdads" with fried and buttered crawfish and a hearty helping of étouffée atop. Her gumbo (changing seasonally, $10) is a soulful, complex stew of chicken thighs and Andouille. And Key hasn't forgotten the place redfish holds on menus around the Gulf coast. She broils up a filet cooked on its skin with a side of her grandmother's butterbean succotash. For those who can't imagine a Southern meal without oysters, Punk's brings on spicy, bracing oyster shooters ($4) spiked with a vodka bloody Mary, as well as broiled oysters on the half shell ($18), cooked just until they quiver — perfect to pair with a dousing of her house-made Punk's hot sauce on every table. And, if you're asking yourself the obvious ("What about the fried chicken?"), it's here, in five-or 10-piece sizings (half and whole birds, $21 and $39) served on butcher-paper-lined sheet pans with biscuits, horseradish-laced mashed potatoes and gravy. Laurann Claridge Co-owner Grant Cooper, executive chef Brandi Key, co-owner Charles Clark DEBORA SMAIL MAX BURKHALTER I t's down the sweet slope, literally, with the newly minted Heights Candy Bar, a labor of love for owner Tanita Gumney and one of our top "Shop Local" destinations along Studewood. Amidst the retail boom along one of the main Heights thoroughfares, this charming destination brings with it a sense of community, from its vintage vibe — housed in a historic 1920s-era, yellow- brick micro shopping center — to the fact that the landlord, Gumney's mother-in-law Judy Pfardresher (proprietor and owner of Oolala), holds court in an adjoining space, along with kids' destination Tulips & Tutus. The drolly named Heights Candy Bar is the domain of Gumney, a graphic designer by trade who was inspired to open when a vacancy occurred (previous tenant Frosted Betty moved to other digs); she imagined a place to pop in for perfect little gifts for birthdays and more. But this candy lady knows a thing or two about confections. Displaying her treats thematically (Easter, Western during rodeo, etc.), Gumney stocks small-batch American chocolatiers, including all- natural Seattle Chocolates (this writer can vouch for the truffle bars, which make pretty hostess presents); Colorado-based Hammond's (maker of Bee Pollen Bars and the alluring Deluxe Dipped Peanut Brittle); Lake Champlain of Vermont (filled with crunchy granola and certified organic); and Chocolove (beguiling bars like the toothsome Peach & Pecan in Milk Chocolate). Rounding out the offerings are Gumney's highly recommended Bissinger's Coconut Pineapple in Dark Chocolate — "about the best things I've tasted (this week)" — and a wall of curated hard candies and gummies. Among the unexpected perks, its owner says, is "meeting new neighbors and friends, including people who have been in four times, even though I've only been open for three weeks. Not judging, just saying." Manning the register if she's off doing errands are husband Keith Gumney and daughter Isabella (who has a nice role, alongside her mom, in UpStage Theatre's production of Willy Wonka, with Heights Candy Bar supplying treats to the cast members). Now, that's what we call keeping it all in the family. Catherine D. Anspon Heights Candy Bar, 833 Studewood , 713.858.5594, SWEET STYLE Tanita Gumney REDUX Drexel House Eatery & Wine Bar

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