5 great places to eat outside

November 13, 2009 by Paul  
Filed under Featured, Recent Articles

5 great places to eat outside


1. Red Balloon Cafe

Located in a shaded strip center fronting Clay Road near Beltway 8, Red Balloon Cafe abuts Carolyn Wolff Park, a three-acre park with more than 80 hardwood trees including nearly century-old oaks. Chef/owner Eric Grbic’s menu is filled with comfort foods like chicken-fried steak, rib-eye sandwiches and fried catfish. The family friendly cafe features counter service during the day and offers a small selection of wine and beer.

• Where it’s at: 4410 Westway Park Blvd.; 713-690-3114

2. Gilhooley’s

Another out-of-the-way (and we mean real out of the way) destination patios is Gilhooley’s in the tiny fishing village of San Leon. The uncovered patio is as scruffy as the restaurant, which is really more of a beer joint. The menu is extensive, budget-friendly and begs to be explored. Unfortunately, we’ve never been able to explore past the grilled oysters, which are the house specialty. The plump little oysters come to the table in the shells with a garlic, Parmesan and butter bath. Amazing. (Note: Don’t take the kids. They’re not welcome. This is a beer joint.)

• Where it’s at: 222 9th St., San Leon; 281-339-3813

3. Olympia: The Grill at Pier 21

Got the kids in tow? No worries. Steer the car toward Galveston and visit one of the island’s newest and prettiest restaurants. Olympia: The Grill at Pier 21 serves familiar Greek fare in a serenely sophisticated setting. The wrap around deck that overlooks the working docks is the perfect place to let the worries of the past week slip away. Some days, a glassblower sets up shop on the patio and demonstrates his craft. For lunch, try a grilled shrimp pita or one of the enormous Greek salads topped with seared tuna. Large selections of wines, beers and cocktails.

Where it’s at: Pier 21 at Harborside Drive, Galveston; 409-765-0021

4. Beck’s Prime

Pick a Beck’s Prime. Several of these burger emporiums have large lovely decks. (No, not you Westheimer @ Wilcrest!) We’re partial to the Beck’s on Augusta. It’s sun-dappled patio seems miles away from the chaos of Westheimer (OK, you can still hear traffic). Try, if you dare, Bill’s Burger, a juicy slab of grilled beef topped with sauteed onions, bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapeños and Beck’s special sauce. There’s wine and beer, and awesome shakes if you’re not into that drinking in the afternoon thing.

Where it’s at: 2615 Augusta Drive; 713-266-9901; and a half dozen other locations.

5. Beaver’s Ice House

The place is becoming quite the patio party on pretty weekends. Of course, it’s got all the makings for a Texas hoe-down: chef Jonathan Joes’ manly barbecue, plenty of fun plates for sharing (fried pickles, anyone) and a bar staff that delights in spontaneity. Tell them your mood, your favorite flavors and let ‘em go. Just be aware that the mood is so laid-back, that it’s easy to sit down to lunch and discover it’s (suddenly) dinner time.

Where it’s at: 2310 Decatur St.; 713-864-2328


Dominic Walsh Dance Theater

November 13, 2009 by Paul  
Filed under Recent Articles

The Woman and Her Husband, at various points, each open a red envelope that contains an emotional trigger — whether it’s a Dear John letter or evidence of betrayal is up to your imagination. But I loved the mountain of shredded paper at the end — evidence that this couple has had a long history of tearing each other apart.


Paris Opera Ballet star Marie Agnes Gillot and Dominic Walsh Dance Theater’s Domenico Luciano, well-paired, eat up the stage as they take turns playing bully and victim. When Gillot curls forward, vulnerable, you ache with her. When she takes a dominatrix pose on a table, the atmosphere crackles. And when she does anything with those amazingly expressive, long feet of hers, you just want to gasp.

Firebird2.bmpLoved the chandelier.

Frederique de Montblanc’s videos (including the panty-cutting scene, which is one of several shadow plays), scenery and costumes evoke a cool psychological emptiness. The “firebird” chandelier is a great touch; light banks that drop from above, especially toward the end when they’re embellished with knives, add drama but seem to overstate the obvious.

Otherwise, Robert Eubanks’ lighting designs were right-on for the whole show — and especially fine for Walsh’s sensuous new take on Afternoon of a Faun. This slightly more faithful adaptation of another Ballets Russes favorite succeeds on every level. It references iconic poses you’ll recognize from famous images of Vaslav Nijinsky but also infuses sexy neoclassical curves into the movement. I loved the giraffe-gazelle-like elegance of the women’s long steps en pointe. The choreography contains several excellent duets that aptly convey the Faun’s sexual curiosity.

Ty Parmenter, as the Faun, reminded me of a young, nimble Walsh. (Actually, Walsh is still pretty nimble; the stage livens up when he’s on it.) The company’s current crop of dancers are gorgeous, including Randolph Ward, Rachel Meyer, Felicia McBride, Lauren Bettencourt and Marissa Leigh Gomer.

McBride and Luciano opened the program vividly with Walsh’s 2006 Le Spectre de la Rose, also a relatively straightforward adaptation.

DyingSwan.bmpRachel Meyer in The Dying Swan.

Meyer brought screen siren glamour to Walsh’s The Dying Swan. The choreography for this piece was so minimal I kept waiting for the dance to start. But overall, the company lives up to its “Dance Theater” name with this program — in a good way.

Spectre.bmpThe dancing was superb all night; here, Luciano leaps in Spectre.

1901-2009: The Great Collaborators of the Ballets Russes continues through Saturday (Oct. 17). Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall. Tickets are available atwww.dwdt.org.