BOVINE & BARLEY
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.