Heights Culinary Pioneer Returns with New Restaurant

Lance Fegen

WHEN IT OPENED more than a decade ago, BRC Gastropub was one of Houston's original purveyors of over-the-top, trendy-chic comfort food; sister resto Liberty Kitchen soon followed, with menus that read like novels and things like French-fry-topped "burger bowls" parading as salads. Houstonians ate it all up. Then-founding chef Lance Fegen was clearly on to something.


So when he and his F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group partners sold the Liberty Kitchen brand last summer, Fegen knew that his time in H-Town kitchens wasn't over: The foursome held onto the original location of Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar on Studewood, and this week, foodies finally get to taste what Fegen has been cooking up.

Gaitano's Cosenza Square

Fegen's opens its doors tomorrow, serving "approachable American food and a cozy atmosphere," per the chef-owner-namesake. Thanks to F.E.E.D. partner Carl Eaves, the building's Texas-tinged coastal vibe has been replaced by a darker color scheme and richly textured elements — red leather banquettes, black-and-white photography, deep green ceramic subway tiles — that evoke the feeling of dining in a sophisticated pub. Expect more refined versions of dishes Fegen has been cooking for years, like Neapolitan-style pizza, comfort-food classics like chicken schnitzel and "Surrago's Sunday Meatball," and hearty seafood-topped salads.

At the bar, order bites like "chowder fries" and cheeseburgers, and wash 'em down with creative spins on classic cocktails — heavy on the gin and whiskey — by Nicole Meza, who previously led the bar program at Weights + Measures.

Fegen's will begin with walk-in or to-go dinner service nightly (closed on Mondays); lunch and brunch will soon follow.

Food

“I WISH I came here sooner to experience this amazing city,” says advanced sommelier Rachel Van Til of her move to Houston just one year before the pandemic lockdown. When Covid appeared in 2020, along with layoffs and closings, it led to a career swerve for Van Til, a working mom who was a sommelier at Pappas Steakhouse. She took over the wine program at The Clubs at Houston Oaks, a posh (initiation fees can range into the six figures) members-only club northwest of the city with 10 lodges, 17 lakes, 900 acres and six dining options. Speaking of lots of good food and vino, the club’s 2022 Wine and Food Classic is this February 12 — it’s a great chance to taste hundreds of wines from around the world and learn about them from winemakers and professionals. “It’s our largest event of the year and it’s open to the public.” In our Q&A, Rachel dishes on her favorite date night, best wines to try this year and her brush with the me-too movement!

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