Courtesy of Marchesa

New York Fashion Week has moved to two new official locations, but one thing remains the same: Designers continue to serve up inspiration and new ideas.

Marchesa inspiration sketch New York Fashion Week spring 2016
Courtesy of Marchesa
Fashion is always changing, and that's certainly true as New York Fashion Week [http://newyorkfashionweeklive.com/] kicks off. The event has a new, more streamlined name (no clunky title sponsor this time around) and two new venues — one near Madison Square Garden and one further downtown near the Meatpacking District. Organizers got kicked out of Lincoln Center [http://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/new-york-fashion-week-lincoln-center-10108237/], the scene of fashion week since 2010, because neighbors didn't like the noise and fashion riffraff hanging out in the theater plaza. But they are touting the move as an opportunity to get back to their fashion roots in a less commercialized atmosphere. No matter the venues, one thing remains the same: Designers continue to come up with inspiration and ideas for the fashions you'll be wearing next spring. As we kick off our exclusive coverage, we asked a host of established and up-and-coming designers to provide a sneak peek. The results are both interesting and intriguing, ranging from exotic Morocco to the beauty found in car rims — and an appearance by tennis great Serena Williams. --- Designer: Marchesa [http://marchesa.com/] co-founders Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig Inspiration: “Aviary garden.”
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Upscale new Japanese restaurant serving sushi, robata, and more docks in familiar River Oaks District space

ouzo bay replacement revealed

Baltimore-based Atlas Restaurant Group has revealed its plans for the former Ouzo Bay space in River Oaks District. The company will bring Azumi, an upscale Japanese restaurant, to the development this winter.

Named for a Japanese word that means “safe harbor,” Azumi will serve a mixture of modern and traditional Japanese dishes. Similar to its sister location at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, the menu will include sushi, tempura, robata, and more.

Atlas Restaurant Group’s executive concept chef Alisher Yallaev plans to move to Houston to open Azumi, according to a press release. He’ll oversee menu development that will utilize premium ingredients such as wagyu beef, freshwater soft sell crab, and fish that’s flown in from Japan. An extensive beverage program will include cocktails, sake, and Japanese whisky.

Designer Patrick Sutton will lead the transformation of Ouzo Bay’s dining room into Azumi. Look for a 130-seat main dining room, a private room for omakase tastings, and a 78-seat dining room.

“We’re excited to bring the culinary artistry of Azumi to Houston’s vibrant dining epicenter, River Oaks District, and look forward to creating lasting memories for guests,” said Alex Smith, President and CEO of Atlas Restaurant Group. “At Azumi, our focus will be the presentation of a sophisticated and immersive Japanese dining experience that finds harmony and balance in both the traditional and innovative.”

Ouzo Bay, Atlas’s European-inspired seafood restaurant, closed April 30. The company still operates Loch Bar, an East Coast-inspired seafood tavern, and Marmo, an Italian steakhouse.

Azumi will join a dynamic mix of restaurants in River Oaks District that includes Steak 48, Spanish restaurant MAD, and Vietnamese restaurant Le Colonial. The district recently welcomed two new arrivals: Bari, an upscale Italian restaurant, and Ojo de Agua, an all-day cafe with locations throughout Mexico.

Azumi exterior rendering

Courtesy of Atlas Restaurant Group

Azumi will open this winter.

Eat a delectable dessert from this sweet Houston cafe and donate to help kids

Crepes for a Cause

This summer, Coco Crepes & Coffee wants you to indulge for a great cause.

During the entire month of June, the popular creperie/neighborhood cafe will donate a portion of its sales from the Banana Split Crepe to Texas Children’s Hospital. Eat gelato to help children? Okay!

This sweet move is in response to International Children's Day on June 1. Being a noted family-friendly eatery, Coco Crepes & Coffee decided that one day simply wasn't enough, so it's helping future generations for the entire month.

Ready for details on the featured crepe? It boasts chocolate sauce-covered banana slices nestled inside a sweet crepe, all drizzled with vanilla, chocolate, and caramel sauces, and then finished off with your favorite flavor of gelato.

But there's no rule that says you can't sample the rest of the menu while you're there. Take your pick from a wide range of dishes that includes sweet and savory crepes, gourmet coffee drinks, salads, paninis, waffles, and smoothies.

Special for summer is the dragonfruit smoothie, a mouthwatering mix of dragonfruit, banana, and mango.

All locations, including the newest one in the Greenway/Upper Kirby area which is set to open in mid-June, are participating in the featured crepe give-back.

So get ready to satisfy your sweet tooth this June while eating for a bigger cause.

Spicy Sichuan hot chicken sandwich restaurant is a go in buzzy Heights-area food hall


The man behind a popular burger joint has added spicy chicken sandwiches to his repertoire. Chef Sunny Vohra has opened Thunderbirds HTX inside Railway Heights Market, the food hall and shopping plaza near the Heights.

Vohra, an L.A. transplant whose Houston resume includes time at Indian fine dining restaurant Kiran, first made a splash with Margaux’s Oyster Bar in Bravery Chef Hall and smash burger restaurant Peaky Grinders at Railway Heights. Having recently parted ways with former business partner Choey Dang, Vohra switched Peaky Grinders to the Meat + Cheese Project — a new concept built around smash burgers and cheesesteaks — and opened Thunderbirds.

For her part, Dang will open a new location of Peaky Grinders in the upcoming Midtown location of the Conservatory food hall and maintains ownership of Margaux’s, Vohra tells CultureMap.

Turning to Thunderbirds, the new restaurant serves Sichuan hot chicken. Similar in approach to Nashville hot chicken but made with a different blend of spices, Vohra explains that each chicken piece gets marinated in both a spice paste and a spice oil that’s infused with Korean chiles, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and other ingredients. After cooking, it’s dusted with a power made from Sichuan peppercorns and, for those who really want to feel the burn, scorpion chiles.

Chef Vohra says that Daybird, a chicken concept founded by Top Chef season 12 winner Mei Lin, as well as traditional Sichuan restaurants Lao Sze Chuan and Chongping Chicken influenced his direction. Like the Meat + Cheese Project, Thunderbirds serves halal meat.

"I have always been fascinated by the complexities of Sichuan cuisine and its symphony of flavors," Vohra said in a statement. "We wanted to create a unique and unforgettable taste by combining the essence of Sichuan with the classic Nashville hot chicken sandwich. The result is a flavor-packed fusion that challenges taste buds and leaves customers wanting more."

The menu includes chicken sandwiches, chicken sliders, chicken wings, and fries that are topped with fried chicken and sauce. Calamansi lemonade helps ease the burn.

Railway Heights Market has seen significant turnover since it opened in 2021. Of its opening vendors, only Mykuna, a South American concept from chef David Guerrero, remains open. In addition to Thunderbirds, other newcomers include Meshiko, Mexican-influenced sushi restaurant; Mediterranean concept Z Pita; and El Comal Taco Eatery.