I intended to hold off before reviewing Taste Bar & Kitchen ’cause it is brand new and I imagine will have changes over the next few months.  But so many of y’all have asked my opinion and rather than responding to every message on Instagram, I decided to go ahead put up a blog.  So here it is, my take on Houston’s newest black owned brunch spot, Taste Bar & Kitchen.

The Setup

Taste Bar & Kitchen took over the space vacated by Sterling House which is a historic building and once home to a governor. There were a few notable changes as an upgrade patio space with a stage. The patio area includes large communal tables and comfy blue patio chairs.  There will be plenty of Instagram photoshoots out here this summer, mark my words.  Inside, the historic feel comes to life with wood floors, wrap around porches and a floor plan that is still reminiscent of a home.  There is seating upstairs and downstairs as well.

I should also note that Taste Bar & Kitchen is located in Midtown where parking is often a challenge.  Thankfully, the restaurant offers valet.  We were able to find street parking a block over, so look for that before opting for valet.

The Service

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So, we decided to head to Taste Bar & Kitchen after the brunch crowd since they basically serve an all day brunch on Saturday (open till 2am).  We couldn’t get our lives together and showed up later than we expected.  As I walked up I saw only one table occupied outside and plenty of empty tables inside.  Based on this scene, I thought “oh we came at the right time”!  Welp, the hostess (who was very nice) told us there was a two hour wait.  *Scans half empty restaurant again*

Now, there probably are TONS of reasons why they were not seating anyone at all of those empty tables. Maybe they were low on waiters or the kitchen was backed up.  Or maybe they were trying to ensure they covered all of their reservations.  I do not know the reason, but to an average patron that just doesn’t make sense.  I didn’t argue though and went ahead and booked on OpenTable for a couple of hours later.

When we came back for our scheduled time, the hostess team seemed a little confused still, but they managed to be nice and personable throughout the entire exchange.  And when OpenTable sent me an email chastising me for “missing my reservation” they were nice about fixing the issue ’cause I needs my OpenTable points!  Our waiter Shannon was also great.  In short, for what they are lacking in organization they make up for it just good ole fashion hospitality.  But there are a few kinks to be worked out.  For the best experience though I would highly recommend making a reservation.

The Food

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When Taste Bar & Kitchen first opened, all of my foodie friends seemed to be in the loop about what to expect.  I visited with little expectations, but from social media I gleaned that the waffles and chicken is what I was here for.   I ordered the red velvet waffles with regular fried chicken.  The waffles were served warm with powdered sugar and a bit of syrup.  The waffle was the right texture for me and the flavors were good.  It was not sweet enough for me to eat without syrup, which was cool with me.  The chicken on the other hand was really good!  I would highly recommend grabbing you a few pieces of that during your visit.

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Now, to know me is to know I lovessss me some mac & cheese.   Based on the menu, this seemed to be another signature dish so I ordered a side of that too.  When it arrived in its own mini cast iron skillet, I was TOO excited.  Grabbed a large bite and was instantly disappointed.  The noodles were overcooked and tasted like the pasta water wasn’t salted.   While I could taste hints of the gouda cheese, I wanted some other flavor note there maybe cheddar cheese.  I am willing to try it again, but the current version doesn’t do much for me.

As far as the rest of the menu, the items seem to be brunch fare throughout the day.  For the chicken, you can get different variations including jerk chicken and Nashville hot chicken which according to my blogger friends is really hot!  They also offer traditional sides like yams and greens.  The menu is pretty simple which seems to be the wave around Houston as of late.

The Takeaway

Listen, Taste Bar &Kitchen is a vibe at the least.  Black professionals are always on the hunt for a new Sunday Funday spot that is welcoming to black folks *cranes neck towards Midtown establishments.*  Plays music that you can bop to and has great food and what not.  If you are seeking the spot where that crowd will be this summer? The Taste Bar & Kitchen patio is where it is at.  I will certainly be back and will update this post as needed!