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Houston's newest craft beer bar brings understated charm to Midtown in a historical building

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Mongoose Versus Cobra opened this weekend. Photo by Sarah Rufca
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Outside Moongoose Versus Cobra a line from Tennyson's "Ulysses" is imprinted in the concrete: "That which we are, we are." Photo by Sarah Rufca
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An understated bar in Midtown? Believe it. Photo by Sarah Rufca
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News_Mongoose vs. Cobra_bar_lounge_curb
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It's been hiding behind a wall of plywood and ivy for months, but Mongoose Versus Cobra, Midtown's new craft beer and cocktail bar, is finally revealing itself to the neighborhood.

The second concept from Ian Rosenberg and Mike Sammons, the duo behind 13 Celsius, Mongoose Versus Cobra opens next week. It has several of the same design elements as 13 Celsius— a spare, industrial aesthetic that focuses on bringing out the beauty of the historic structure. In this case that means showcasing the dramatic brick walls and preserving the 20-foot-high wood beam ceilings, with air conditioning ducts cleverly hidden so as not to distract from the floor-to-ceiling design.

The front facade is a mixture of iron and glass, and the vintage glass panels in the imposing front door mirror the look of the clerestory windows that run the length of the bar. Inside two parallel rows of tables with bench seating recall a communal beer hall or garden, while the studded, high-backed seats at individual tables near the rear of the bar have more of a saloon vibe.

Virtually all the fixtures were designed especially for Mongoose Versus Cobra, including lots of special little details — a bathroom faucet made of exposed copper pipes, cylindrical light bulbs illuminating a vintage-train-station-style beer menu board, a poured concrete bar in the form of the wood planks and a gorgeous carpet covering the small second-story alcove seating space.

As is fitting for the name, there's a vignette of a taxidermied mongoose and cobra locked in an epic battle inset into one of the walls, and hidden above the bar area (which includes 42 taps) a stuffed baboon manages to look quite regal.

Outside a line from Tennyson's "Ulysses" is imprinted in the concrete: "That which we are, we are." According to Rosenberg, it's their way of saying that with this bar, what you see is what you get, and it does seem like Mongoose Versus Cobra likes to play with exposing some of the elements that other bars keep hidden.

Small kegs, stripped of their wooden casings, are visible above the taps through a panel of frosted glass, and the front windows of the building offer an unobstructed view behind the bar.

Hey, it is what it is. It just happens to look like a pretty cool place to grab a drink.

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