Woodrows Heights Reworks It

25-year old Washington Ave restaurant transforms with new name, new look, new food focus

25-year old Washington Ave restaurant gets facelift, new food focus

Don Schoenberg Durham House
Don Schoenburg impressed diners at the annual Curry Crawl. Now he'll really get to show off at The Durham House. Photo by Daniel Ortiz

A Washington Avenue institution is plotting a new course. Woodrows Heights, which has been home to both Floyd's Cajun Kitchen and the Mardi Gras Grill, closed for renovations in June. On August 21, it will be reborn as The Durham House Cajun & Craft, but the name isn't the only thing that's changing.

"We're redoing the whole place," chef Don Schoenburg tells CultureMap. "It's going to be a whole new restaurant."

The Durham House will replace Woodrow's Cajun-oriented menu of mostly fried and boiled seafood with more upscale fare. Schoenburg describes his new menu as "South Texas slash Louisiana" and says it will feature steak, scallops, duck and fish from the Gulf of Mexico.

"We're sourcing as much produce locally as we can. Our menus will reflect seasonality for the most part," he says.

Those upscale ingredients come with slightly higher prices. The chef expects lunch items to cost between $12 and $15. A separate dinner menu will feature appetizers priced from $8 to $15 and entrees that range from $18 to $32. A bar menu will feature happy hour specials for $5 from 3 pm to 7 pm. 

Schoenburg explains that the new direction is designed to appeal to the young professionals who have made Washington Ave their home in recent years. He realizes that the changes, which include a full interior renovation, may alienate some of the restaurant's regulars, but that's a price he's willing to pay to be part of the new, more upscale direction on Washington Ave. The new name will also end any confusion about whether Woodrows has any connection to Little Woodrow's (hint: it doesn't).  

In addition to changes to the food, Schoenburg plans to make The Durham House a craft beer destination. The restaurant will feature 18 craft beer taps, including one nitro, as well as 85 beers in cans and bottles. Monthly dinners will spotlight local breweries, such as nearby Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company on August 29. Five courses paired with five beers costs only $60 and the price includes a 22-ounce bottle of the brewery's coveted Smoke on the Bayou that diners can take home. 

As for Woodrows sister concept, Big Woodrows on Chimney Rock is also closed for renovations, but Schoenburg explains that it's to repair damage suffered during Hurricane Ike. After the work has been completed, it will reopen with the same Cajun menu and sports bar concept it has always had. 

Good to know at least one part of the Woodrows family will remain a source for football and po-boys, but The Durham House's new direction merits watching.