BOVINE & BAR­LEY

Public News (Houston) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jamie Alvear jamie.alvear@pub­lic­new­son­line.com

The down­town Hous­ton bar scene is hop­ping these days and adding to that ex­cite­ment is Hous­ton’s new­est gas­tropub, Bovine & Bar­ley. Gone are the days of slam­ming a generic beer with a hand­ful of bar nuts. Bars have fi­nally re­al­ized that food­ies want a craft brew and a gourmet meal.

Part­ners Michael Collins (The Fish, The Re­fin­ery Burgers & Whiskey) and Jason Low­ery (Proof Rooftop Lounge) opened Bovine & Bar­ley in the for­mer El Cen­tro lo­ca­tion at Prairie and Main. The space has been com­pletely trans­formed into a so­phis­ti­cated yet bold lounge filled with rich wood ac­cents, cus­tom ta­bles, and Edgar Allan Poe quotes. In the cen­ter of the res­tau­rant is a mag­nif­i­cent u-shaped bar that is very com­fort­able and wel­com­ing. Of course you can’t miss the hun­dreds of light bulbs that adorn the wall spell­ing out HTX. There’s also a pri­vate room up­stairs that is per­fect for meet­ings or in­ti­mate gath­er­ings. Plans are cur­rently in the works for an out­door pa­tio that will seat up to 30.

When it comes to the Bar­ley part of B& B, they have re­ally taken care of busi­ness. Over 40 beers are avail­able on tap and many of those are from lo­cal brew­eries. Since the se­lec­tion changes fre­quently, the menu is shown on com­put­er­ized screens. Don’t worry about feel­ing over­whelmed with the se­lec­tion. Matt Heer has cre­ated a su­perb bar pro­gram and his staff, which in­clude awe­some bar­tenders like John Havens (AKA “Red”), are ex­tremely knowl­edge­able and ready to help make a sug­ges­tion. I started with a Union Jack IPA; it was an ex­cep­tional beer with notes of cit­rus and honey. Want­ing to try some­thing a lit­tle bolder, my next pick was Deschutes Ob­sid­ian Stout Nitro. This lus­cious beer could easily pass for liq­uid

dessert. It was deep and ro­bust with hints of espresso and cho­co­late.

Although beer is ob­vi­ously the main fo­cus of B& B, wine and cock­tail drinkers will find some­thing to en­joy as well. They have a full bar, but be sure to try one of their draft cock­tails. These bar­rel aged cock­tails ri­val any li­ba­tion be­ing served by lo­cal mixol­o­gists. You have the ben­e­fit of a great craft cock­tail with­out hav­ing to spend 10 min­utes watch­ing it be made. Even­tu­ally, there will be up to six choices. I tried three that were cur­rently be­ing of­fered, the Sau­vage Collins (Lone Elm Vodka, Citron Sau­vage Liqueur, Le­mon Juice, Sim­ple Syrup), the Old Swine (Fat Washed and Un-Fat­washed Whip­per­Snap­per Whiskey, Wa­ter, Turbo, An­gos­tura and Mole Bit­ters), and the Smoke & Fire Mule (Mez­cal, Lime Juice, Sim­ple Syrup, Ginger Beer, Hell­fire Shrub Bit­ters).

Now about the Bovine part. B& B of­fers a “beef-cen­tric” menu master­fully cre­ated by Chef Harold Wong (The Fish, Azuma). I was in­ter­ested to see how his ap­proach would be to this meat cen­tered menu con­sid­er­ing he is known for his skills with a more del­i­cate cui­sine. I have to say I was quite im­pressed. B & B has an as­sort­ment of “com­fort food” type en­trees with a rich, beefy good­ness to them. The small bites are per­fect for shar­ing and in­clude op­tions like Meat­loaf Muffins, Steak on a Stick, Meat­ball Flat­bread, HTX Slid­ers, Cast Iron Queso, and Jalapeño Ba­con Bites. My fa­vorites were the Steak on a Stick (beef skew­ers with shishito pep­pers, grilled onions, and Thai chili sauce) and the Jalapeño Ba­con Bites (pineap­ple chunks wrapped in jalapeño ba­con and stuffed with cream cheese). For a heartier fare, I rec­om­mend the Bovine Burger. It’s a ½ pound An­gus beef patty topped with ba­con, ched­dar cheese, fried onion strings, let­tuce, and tomato. B& B does of­fer a few non-beef items like South­ern Fried Chicken and a Tuna Steak burger, as well as sal­ads.

Peo­ple of all ages will find some­thing to love about Bovine & Bar­ley. They are open for lunch, happy hour, and din­ner. Bovine & Bar­ley is a great place to drink, dine, and be merry! In the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “What care I how time ad­vances? I am drink­ing ale to­day.”

Bovine & Bar­ley is lo­cated at 416 Main Street in Hous­ton, Texas. Their phone num­ber is (832) 742-5683 and you can find them on the web at www.bovine­and­bar­ley.com They are open Mon­days through Wed­nes­day from 11am to mid­night; Thurs­day and Fri­day from 11am to 2am; Satur­day 4pm to 2am and Sun­day 4pm to mid­night.

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