October 28th, 2009
Brixx: Two Xs in the Name, Dos Equis at the Bar
In 5 Words: Patio-Lounge, Washington, Casual, "It", Garage
The scene along Washington Avenue seems to be ever populating. Bars, clubs, and lounges continually pop up like the progeny of rabbits with nothing better to do. So far, each has made an attempt to carve out it’s own niche, leaving nothing more than parking to fight over. Even when there is no niche to be had, establishments can invent one quite easily. Brixx is the newest to the block and its owners have unleashed their creative juices to give life to a new category: upscale, patio lounge.
It’s relatively early on Wednesday night when two of my friends convince me that “just one beer” is the perfect cap for the night. I’m sleepy after gorging on a meal prepared by my culinary-gifted friend (to more fully brag, a variation of a red snapper recipe from Ad Hoc at Home that will remind loopsters what they can find at Feast). Knowing that “just one beer” never proves literal I shelve my thoughts of slumber and set off toward Washington for Drinkery.
As I pull up to Durham my phone rings in my pocket. My friend is calling an audible.
“Hey, we stopped at this new place.”
“What new place?” I ask, already frustrated with my choice to go out.
“I don’t know, this new place by Eight. Let’s check it out.”
I double back around without much of a fight. Gloriously, there is parking on the street near this mystery establishment that’s sandwiched between the club, Eight and the beer mecca, Taps. It looks like a renovated auto shop. Three large, garage-style openings take up most of the facade. A smaller annex on the left side of the building is similarly styled with smaller garage doors ready to shut out the Houston rain that’s beginning to threaten our night.
The name of this mystery lounge isn’t apparent until I see a bright, royal t-shirt with the name “Brixx” in a hurried script on the back. Two Xs. Obviously, the third “X” has been left off in an attempt to avoid being associated with an erotic sex shop. As we wait on the bartender to take our order, my friend turns to me and says “I want to ask the owners ‘why two Xs.’ If he told me it was a joke, I’d be ok with that.” A slender, dirty blonde approaches me from the other side of the bar and asks me “what my vice will be tonight.” Asking for a Dos Equis, I smirk to myself, having just served wit to an unaware bar maid.
I follow my two friends as we take a lap around the grounds. There’s a DJ booth stashed in the corner of a dance floor that will inevitably get jammed with people, but hasn’t attracted too many patrons as of yet. Tall tables with matching stools stand at irregular intervals and separate the dance floor from the bar. The back of Brixx opens up to a large back area with an elevated deck replete with tables and bench seating. Looking up over the tall fence a townhouse rises up innocently. Immediately I feel for the tenants.
We continue on our walk finding respite at the bar that rests under the awning of the annex. Since the smoking ban in Houston was levied more than two years ago, taking a seat at the bar to indulge in a Marlboro has become an endangered practice. But, with Brixx’ open environment there still remains a haven for those of us who take solace in cigarettes and beer. Staring us in the face as we sit at the bar, is a flat-screen television displaying the final outs of a game between the Dodgers and Phillies.
As we stand at the bar, half-heartedly watching the last innings of the game, a newcomer approaches our trio looking for a “non-mentholated” cigarette. Being extroverts, we strike up a conversation with our new friend. She works the happy hour shift at Brixx and informs us that this is the first night it’s been open and that happy hour prices will last all night. Good news for our crew of “just one beer” gentlemen ready for “just one more.” We ask what kind of scene they expect and she is very adamant that it will be a “casual crowd” and that they won’t turn people away because “they’re wearing shorts, shirts without collars or jeans.” We ask her that they institute one rule and make sure to turn away anyone wearing “jorts.”
The drizzle of the Houston night continues as we lean into the bar to stay away from the drip coming from the edge of the roof. Cold, wet backs do not a happy drinker make. I wonder aloud whether Brixx will be able to maintain the clientele they seem to want to bring in. It’s hard not to fall into the trap of being the “it” lounge in these parts. But, they do have the distinct pleasure of being smack dab between the casual Taps and the dressy Eight. Perhaps they will be able to exist in the happy medium between the two, physically and conceptually.
I order one more round of drinks for us and ask for the tab. The clock is quickly approaching midnight which might be a far cry from late but definitely a good point to go home. Midnight always seems so far away when you’re remembering sobriety at 2:00 AM. As I take the flimsy paper of my receipt I inspect the damage. $4 for a Dos Equis, $7 for a Crown and Seven. Both are average prices for the area, but not the “happy hour prices” that we were promised.
We leave to face Brixx another night when the word reaches the masses that they’ve opened. The “grand opening” isn’t promised for another week and I’m sure it will be an affair to remember. Hopefully our new friend, the bartender, remembers our warnings about the “jort wearers” but, we’ll have to make a return trip to see if she keeps her promise.
Where – 5110 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77007 (View Map)
What – Up-scale Patio Bar
Wear – Be Casual but Leave the Jorts at Home
Who – Outdoor Drinkers, Lounge Loungers
How Much – Average Prices for the Area
When – Happy Hour on to Two A.M.