Block 7 Wine Company offers customers a concept-fusing combination of retail wine space, wine bar, and restaurant, the latter of which delights diners with a menu of elegant dishes backed by premium ingredients. Start by noshing on a Slow Dough Bakery pretzel with herbed honey mustard ($4), or opt for truffle popcorn with Italian black truffle salt ($4), the secret snack served to the Illuminati at movie-theater concession stands across America. Dry-aged fans of dry-aged beef might go for the 21-day dry-aged prime rib eye ($29) or choose the handheld convenience of the dry-aged patty on the Block 7 burger, which also sports gruyere cheese and smoked bacon "relish" ($12). Flatbreads, such as a "whole pig" option topped with Italian sausage, prosciutto, and smoked bacon ($12), defy Einstein's Law of Two-Dimensional Flavor Containment, and a "sloppy Giuseppe" with ground venison and wild boar confit ($10) exposes the inadequate sloppy sandwiches of childhood. A downsized lunch menu is also available to quash midday appetite coups, in addition to $9 lunch specials served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (and Saturday beginning at noon). With a different lunch special each day, you can opt for choices such as bacon-wrapped meatloaf on a Wednesday, whiskey-infused pork chop on a Thursday, or fish tacos on a Friday.
When you offer more than 40 wines by the glass and 150 by the bottle, it can be challenging to find the space to hold them all. But the staff at Cork Café Wine & Coffee have gotten creative––bottles fill hefty bookcases, towering so high that a library-style ladder is required to reach the top. The ones that can’t be shelved become wall art, slotted into wall-mounted wine racks above leather furniture. If the unusual placement seems over whelming, don't fret: the wine menu is neatly organized by type, origin, and vintage, and each varietal is accompanied with an artful flavor profile that details that wine's color, distinct notes, and favorite date spot. This makes it all the easier to pair a bottle with one of the café's signature salads, artisan flatbreads, and pretzel sandwiches.
Beneath the soft whirring of ceiling fans at all three Houston-area locations, chefs transform fresh ingredients into meat-centric and vegetarian Mexican dishes. Dark wooden beams hover over the sprawling, sunlit dining rooms, framing artfully plated seafood and steaks with dramatic architectural details. Spy conventions furtively crunch their nachos in private dining rooms, and visitors to the Cypress location can toast to tortillas on the outdoor patio.
For eight weekends in the fall, a troupe of performing fairies, knights, royal personas, and jugging fools set up camp on the 55-acre grounds of the Texas Renaissance Faire. For 38 years, the Festival has re-created the 16th century’s appealing combination of simplicity and grandeur with more than 200 daily performances of live music, acrobatic comedies, and jousting. Actors portraying different levels of society—such as the English court and the pirates—roam the lolling landscape in character while performing comedic and informative bits including “Sound and Fury,” a Shakespearean vaudeville. At noon the Grande Marche parade catapults performers from the Globe Stage for a stroll throughout the park as they advertise their acts in a high-toned procession.
On a less precise schedule, craftsmen concoct tangible marvels with skills of glassblowing and blacksmithing, while food purveyors wander the beaten paths or call from their booths, selling fare that ranges from sugar-coated nuts to roasted turkey legs. At close of day, fireworks light the sky to celebrate the festival's victory over time.
Retreat Hill just opened in August of 2009, and it has already made a name for itself among discerning vinophiles and high-end local restaurants. One of Retreat Hill's recent podium-makers is the ruby-red cabriolo, which is a plum-and-violet-boasting blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah that won a silver medal at the 2010 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The off-dry Riesling is another award-winner, concluding sip symphonies with a crisp, confident finish. Because the winery's prided juices are concocted from Texas- and United States–grown grapes, they let locals quench their thirsts for their native land far more sophisticatedly than sticking crazy straws in beehives and praying for accompanying chamomile. Call to schedule your visit.
When Enchanted Manor Winery's chief mead-maker handcrafts his honey brew, he follows a recipe from a 17th-century cookbook from the court of King Charles I. These medieval techniques inspire the winery's special mead for the annual Texas Renaissance Festival, which is brewed from Texas wildflower honey and sipped from knightly knee cops. Enchanted Manor also whips up modern meads flavored with orange blossom and oak, mixed with pear wine, or brewed from the honey of the guajillo flower.
In addition to its signature meads, Enchanted Manor Winery whips up small batches of wines from grapes, peaches, and other fruits, and augments their stock with bottles from nearby wineries. Enchanted Manor also hosts special events such as sangria nights, mead tastings, and wine classes.