Liberty Kitchen Now Open to Almost All; Coffee Coming Around Back

Over the weekend, Lance Fegen and Lee Ellis’s long-awaited Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar finally opened in the former Stop-N-Go on the last remaining corner of 11th St. and Studewood without some sort of restaurant on it. The new neighbor to Someburger, Ruggles 11th St. Cafe, and Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe is now open to the public for dinner.

Excepting, of course, Chronicle food critic Alison Cook: A carefully designed custom decal on the restaurant’s door appears to be the restaurant’s attempt to bar Cook from entry, perhaps to prevent her from penning a Liberty Kitchen review anything like her epic slam of Fegen’s BRC Gastropub last year. Sample sentence from that review: “What to say — besides no, thank you — of BRC’s putative pimento cheese dip that’s a runny splodge of lumpy pinkness on a white plate, with its advertised Vermont cheddar utterly defeated by great gouts of mayonnaise?” Cook’s plea that Liberty Kitchen’s sister restaurant serve the gloppy dip in a ramekin instead is apparently the inspiration for the reference to white plates in this witty comeback only 15 months in the making.

But surely the Liberty Kitchen crew will allow Cook a cup of lukewarm tea in that coffeehouse they’re planning to open next door?


That would be Joe Black’s Coffee House, which Fegen and Ellis will fit into this lazy building behind Liberty Kitchen at 1132 E. 11th St. It’s been vacant for at least 2 decades. According to Culturemap, the cafe will feature outdoor seating under a large ash tree by the parking lot.

Photos: Mike C. (Liberty Kitchen), Linda Salinas (sign), The Heights Life (Joe Black’s)

24 Comment

  • That dip was nasty looking and tasting (and expensive!), so the review was fair in that respect. But that was so long ago that I forgot about until now.

    They should know that signs like this only make their enemy stronger.

  • Competition in the Heights is becoming fierce and I think this place is going to fail hard.

    Antagonizing the restaurant critic for the biggest publication in town may have sounded like a smart preemptive move to someone, but…it’s actually really, really amateurish.

    As for another coffeehouse…good luck with that, with Antidote already cornering the faux hipsters/laptop poseurs market just down the street. Antidote’s owners seem like really good people, by the way, but…that’s their customer base.

    I have been to BRC and thought it was decent, but Liberty Kitchen has taken forever to be completed and I just don’t feel that dissing Cook as you open displays a lot of confidence in the ability of your enterprise to sway skeptics.

  • These guys need to grow up.

  • Plan: Let’s open a new restaurant and broadcast that we’re petty and insecure. It can’t possibly go wrong.

  • You know, this presents a dilemma for me. I wouldn’t read Alison Cook (or any other ‘foodie’ for that matter) on a bet, so dissing her would normally garner a thumbs up from me. However, being that the dis comes from ‘celbrity chefs’, I feel hard pressed to lift the thumb. Since it is walking distance, I’ll give the joint a whirl, but as Iggloo points out, the clientele is likely to make me barf. Hopefully, the drinks are stout and I won’t give a damn.

  • Thank you Liberty Kitchen! I would appreciate it if Cook and other pretentious s**t don’t stank foodies are discouraged also. Cook and others are as good as Yelp, simply an indicator of what you may find and more likely someone trying to make themselves feel important.

  • I hardly live and die by what Allison Cook writes about restaurants, and I at times fully disagree with her, but this is just plain silly. Her review of BRC, while scathing, was actually accurate.

    This place is getting bad review after bad review and the competition in the Heights is pretty stiff. I see a failure coming.

    Beyond the obvious fact that they don’t want another bad review, which indicates insecurity in their product, it also screams, “we are petty and childish and can’t handle criticism.”

    If this place is great, why not let her in? Why not let her write a review about how awesome the food and service is?

    “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

  • Amateurish mistake. Preemptively dissing a foodie makes her that much more relevant.

  • Come on… regarding the sign on the door, this is obviously an attempt to be funny and nothing more. If a certain restaurant critic truly wasn’t welcome in their place would they have announced to the world in this way? It doesn’t seem petty or insecure, it just seems like a stab at humor gone wrong, from the looks of these posts. Lighten up.

  • Ditto Protagoras, just an attempt at low-brow free advertising by way of all the Houston blog/web-sites that will post the image and a two-bit blurp about it. I am sure the sticker will peel off just as easy as it went up.

  • Have to agree with protagoras–this is obviously an attempt at humor, and not a bad one at that. I’d like to think that Cook will appreciate it as such.

  • It is really an inside joke more than a slam on Cook. Alison Cook has been reviewing Lance Fegen since Zula. She was way too hard on BRC, mainly because she has been a big fan of Fegen in the past and probably came to BRC with unfair expectations. The fact of the matter is that BRC prints money. People will wait an hour to get a table, all the while getting sauced on pricey beer and wine at the bar. Whereas, Alison Cook’s favorite, Playa Yelapa, has closed. Likewise, Down House is still cruising along even after taking a very unfair beating from Alison Cook (she reviewed them just as they switched chefs and just days before a new menu). There is more to restaurant life than pleasing Alison Cook. I think that is really what the sign is about.

  • I cant wait to try this place – the Heights is a complete vacuum of good seafood (with the sole exception of fish tacos @ berry hill)…if they don’t serve pure garbage I see this place as a success….from those I have talked to thus far who have been – they have loved it….I cant wait to try it.

  • you are all joking, right? Cook is no foodie. she is a Houston Chronicle Journalist/Blogger…and that doesnt mean a heck of a lot. the BRC is hardly suffering either… The sign on the door will not make any difference, and you all know it. The place is either good and worth returning to or it is not. And geez…hating on the Hippie wanna-be’s? and on the “foodies”…sure makes the hater’s look awesome! feeling better yet? Lay off and enjoy a new restaurant, or don’t. I hope they do well! it is a good use for the corner, they took their time with it, and why not give them a chance!

  • Alison Cook is not a “foodie”. She is restaurant/food reviewer for the major daily in town. Big difference. Like any reviewer, you read, you absorb and maybe make a decision based upon their comments. I know she has a rule of visiting each place 3 times minimum before writing. It doesn’t matter if you agree or not, it is a data point from an experienced food writer with decades of experience.

    BRC is vile. Fegan’s The Glass Wall is marginal. This new place may be OK. But one thing is well known, he’s a hothead and doesn’t take criticism well. That alone makes me want to take my money elsewhere.

  • People still read The Chronicle? Good to know… I like BRC. Wait that came across differently than I meant. I should have said I like BRC in my mouth. Oh not again! I mean there food is good! Everyone should try BRC. Oh God, did it again…. I give up…

  • The chronicle maybe the only “major daily in town” but it is one of the worst newspapers in circulation. The sheer volume of errors and the pathetic highly biased reporting make everything printed by it suspect. I give a blogger like Allison Cook absolutely zero respect or deference when it comes to choosing a restaurant.

  • BRC is good for one thing, brunch. And is oft populated with sub washington avenue douchery, but damn the mac and cheese is pretty good.

  • Yozah ! I’ll now avoid any Lance Fegen joint , based on what the previous posters said .I DO NOT heed what ANY critic -legit or faux says. And any “reviewer” / “critic” / “blogger” is suspect anyway.I think for myself,like most of you do.Yes,the Heights is reaching its saturation point. Too many places -not enough patrons.There has been / will be failures/closures/etc.I have always said any “critic” is a FAILED,envious,jealous,pissed off wanna be.And all they can do is gripe,whine,bitch about things they pretend to know about. They’re bitter a**holes !!

  • The comments here confuse me. Alison Cook isn’t a blogger; she’s a journalist and the food critic for the Houston Chronicle, a position which she’s held for many years – long before blogs came along, I might add – and for which she’s greatly respected. Not just in Houston, but across the nation. And before that, she was the food critic for the Houston Press. In other words, Cook knows what she’s talking about and is well-respected within her chosen profession (yes, it’s a full-time job, guys!); she’s not just another jerk on Yelp. Just saying… :)

  • Patrick, I take it you don’t live in the Heights? New restaurants are thriving and there are genres of food we don’t even have yet (sushi and Indian come to mind). Plus, you shouldn’t assume only people who live in the Heights eat in the Heights. That would be silly.

  • I’m just glad to see something happening at the old chuckwagon (the coffee place to be)

  • Had dinner there Friday night. Good. Not great. We’ll be back.

  • Using the same tricks all the washington ave douche bars do. Stir a little controversy, internetz go wild, boom…brand recognition.

    I’m just pissed they used “Liberty” in the name. If I’m going to Liberty, I’m going to my favorite bar in town Liberty Station god damnit!!