On this week's episode of What's Eric Eating, Postino WineCafe co-founder Lauren Bailey and sommelier Brent Karlicek join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the new wine bar-restaurant hybird that opened this week in the Heights Mercantile development. Bailey and Karlicek each share how they began their careers in the restaurant business before diving into the various ways in which Postino differentiates itself as an all-day, wine-forward concept.
Sandler notes that the space's design, which includes a bar, booths, tables, couches, and a spacious patio, furthers Postino's goal of offering its customers different experiences. Customers are welcome to come for date night on a Saturday night or to linger over their laptops on a Tuesday afternoon, as Bailey explains.
Well, first of all, we don't like rules, so we try to avoid any scenario where we have a lot of rules or tell people what to do. That's where it started. This culture, we always wanted to create value and take a risk with a varietal you might not order, so in the beginning, there was always $5 wines by-the-glass and every pitcher of beer is $5 from 11 am to 5 pm. We felt like that would support our quest to create space for people to come and work on their laptop or meet a friend or have lunch or a business meeting, all these different ways.
I think we've stayed really focused on that, not just with the programming of the menus and the wine list, but also how we train our staff to be really welcoming. We're not going to give you the stinkeye when you're sitting on your laptop for two hours at the bar. We're probably going to ask you what you're working on, and do you need another glass of wine.
While Upward Projects, the company that owns Postino, has several other restaurant concepts, Bailey says they're focused on growing the wine cafe. Could that include more locations in Houston? "If anyone out there has any ideas or real estate, you can email me," Bailey says. We'll take as a yes.
Prior to the interview segment, Urban Swank bloggers Shanna Jones and Felice Sloan make their triumphant return to the show to discuss the news of the week. They share their thoughts on the winners of the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, chef Ben McPherson's plans to open BOH Pasta at the Bravery Chef Hall, the changes B&B Butchers owner Ben Berg is making at Carmelo's, and some highlights from the Tacos Over Texas event.
In the restaurant of the week segment, the trio recount their meal at Postino during last weekend's friends and family service. The food, especially the signature bruschetta, the butcher's block charcuterie plate, and the soup, earns raves, but, as one would expect during training, the service needs a few tweaks. Sandler also shares some first impressions of Fresco Cafe Italiano, a newish restaurant on the Southwest Freeway that makes its own pasta and serves an excellent linguine vongole.