The Hit List: Tiny Bubbles, Big Parties
The Hit List: Tiny Bubbles, Big Parties!by Robin Barr Sussman | Houston magazine | December 21, 2012
New Year’s Eve is all about the Champagne, and serious sippers will want a toast with the most. Whether you’re looking to kick back on a patio, indulge in a formal 4-course feast, hit that chic French spot in the ’hood or pop in to clink glasses at midnight, we’ve got the bubbly beat covered!
1. Creole-spiced Brennan’s (3300 Smith St., 713.522.9711) is boss for that special night out and equally Champagne-worthy for ringing in 2013. Its massive ever-changing wine list sports hundreds of global choices including bubbles by-the-glass, half and full bottles in every price range. It’s all here from the stunning Krug Brut ’98 hovering around $900, to the fine Perrier Jouet Grand Brut under $100, or an excellent California sparkler like Domaine Chandon Etoile Rosé. On NYE, choose the full dinner menu or specials like citrus-glazed red snapper and crispy oysters; smoked salmon and asparagus salad; Creole mustard-crusted Colorado Lamb chops; and Veronica’s Meyer Lemon Meringue pie with blueberry coulis.
2. Steak out Brenner’s on the Bayou (One Birdsall St., 713.868.4444) for a romantic vibe that feels like dining in a swanky glass tree house in the woods. In addition to the steak-heavy menu, there will be a special 4-course menu on NYE ($75-$95, $35 extra for wine pairing) which might include sea bass, a duo of duck, or beef tenderloin and a lobster tail. The al fresco Blue Bar overlooking the lush manicured lawns is tented for cold weather and an awesome place to raise a glass from the stellar list of menu choices. Here’s to Krug Grande Cuvée, Louis Roederer Cristal Brut, or Ruinart Blanc de Blanc!
3. Cha Champagne & Wine Bar (810 Waugh Dr., 713.807.0967), Houston’s only Champagne bar, features a solid list of bubbly from all over the world and also proffers obscure finds like Grower Champagne from small independent growers who produce limited quantities. Laurent-Perrier is sponsoring the NYE party here, so expect a vibrant night with the brut, demi sec and rosé flowing. The Matt Wilhelm Quartet jazz band will be on from 9pm-1am, and every guest receives a glass of Champagne for a midnight toast. For noshing, there will be food specials all night including the signature Laurent-Perrier Champagne donut bread pudding. Sin city!
4. At Tony Vallone’s casual yet sleek Ciao Bello (5161 San Felipe St., 713.960.0333), the sparkling wines are carefully hand selected—sometimes by Tony himself. For your celebration, don’t overlook the very special Italian sparklers like ultra-elegant Bellavista, Francicorta metodo classico; the pretty NV Ferrari Brut Rosé; or bright and balanced NV Scarpetta sparkling rosé made with Pinot Noir. For French Champagne, local wine expert Jeremy Parzen recommends: NV Taittinger Brut, a classic with food due to acidity and superb fruit; NV Henriot Brut Soverain, a sommelier fave due to its true Chardonnay expression; or NV Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve Grand Cru, a splurge bottle, “one of the most gorgeous and nuanced Champagnes available in Houston today,” he says. New Year’s Eve, swing to the tunes of jazz singer-pianist Louie Carrington, Jr. along with a pre fixe menu ($55).
5. Tres chic Brasserie 19 (1962 W. Gray St., 713.524.1919) is on the cutting edge when it comes to accessible wine and carries an extensive selection of more 40 sparklers perusable via ipad. Nothing goes better with bubbly than the celebratory oyster, which are shucked fresh on site. Seasonal dinner items include roasted rack of lamb with braised lamb belly; cassoulet with duck confit and house-made sausage; and rainbow trout almandine Meuniere with charred cauliflower. Also expect off-the-menu specials for NYE like a lobster surf & turf or cinnamon bread pudding with pumpkin gelato, salted caramel and candied pecans. Reserve ahead and bask in the glittering decorated space, gratis midnight Champagne toast included!