Chisme y Chicle 

“It’s never too late to enter a convent,” proclaims the Liberty Bar at the Convent website. Love it — especially considering that the move from the venerable old location to the new, originally scheduled for May 26, is now announced as 11 a.m. June 2. Restaurants always open later than they first think. Maybe even later than they second think.

 I haven’t seen the interior finish out at the Convent, though those who have profess to be impressed (our editor, whose son worked with craftsman Wayne Dow on the project’s extensive woodwork, included). Like everyone, however, I have seen the coral color that now cloaks the exterior. Boy, howdy. Gotta say, as much as I’m a professed partisan of color in architecture, it’s not what I would have done to the old super-mom. But perhaps with the passing of time and a little felicitous fading, it will turn out to have been a bold choice. Well, it’s already a bold choice; let’s substitute “good” and keep our fingers crossed.

 The menu, in any case, is not calculated to disorient anyone. “We will serve our regular menu at the customary hours,” assures the website. As exciting as Liberty’s move is, my hope is not solely that they will do well in the new location, but that their presence will drive traffic to other Southtown establishments as well. Oloroso and Madhatters, for example. And maybe even encourage others. Just as Pearl is planning for even more restaurants in their developing “urban village” as a way of creating a synergistic critical mass, so can ‘hoods such as Southtown hope to thrive by attracting serious restaurants and unique retail. Leaving aside the parking issue for the moment …

Desperate times call for desperate measures. With Ciel closed and Ciao II languishing at Damien Watel’s Stone Oak outpost, the indefatigable chef/entrepreneur has announced a revamp of the theme at Ciao II. It has become a bar and grill featuring live music and pool tables. The menu now sports offerings such as Big Fork burgers, in honor of the controversial object Watel was forced to fig-leaf for the Stone Oak aesthetic police. Truffle fries and Italian “nachos” will also put in an appearance. As opposed as I am to the notion of pool tables (disclaimer: I designed the original space), I also hope the revamp does the trick.

 I do think that, in the interests of clean-sweep psychology, a new name might be in order as well, especially considering that Watel has also admitted that he has sold the original Ciao near Olmos Circle. The new owners are David and Marie Walker, and a request for more complete information has not yet yielded results. So, what’s a guy to do? Google. Doing so netted a pastor, a quiltmaker-photographer, an eponymous technologies company, a forensic psychologist … none of which suggests any restaurant experience. So, take your pick; it’s more fun that way anyhow. And wish them luck. I was told by another source that the kitchen staff remains, but that’s no guarantee of success.


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