Just a block from the San Antonio River Walk, Hollywood icon Clark Gable, looking deep into the eyes of his burgundy clothed Carole Lombard, sits his wine glass down on a serving tray carried by The Godfather, Marlon Brando.
Intrigued and enlightened regulars know where this scene is.
Located perfectly between the ornate Majestic and intimate Empire Theaters, Houston Street Bistro has all the elements for an excellent dining experience for downtown visitors, residents and workers.
A gracious, friendly and polished staff, with the attentive eye of co-owner Razmik Boghozian, pamper guests who seek a welcome respite from the bustle of downtown San Antonio activities.
Houston St. Bistro is a premier spot for pre-show goers who enjoy consistently good entrees that enhance and compliment the theater experience.
The menu appeals to a range of diners to meet the varied resident, tourist and work population in the heart of the Alamo City’s theater district.
Clever touches set the standard.
Music, set at just the right volume, agrees with the theater’s current production. Well stocked and versatile wine offerings balance with the menu. Fresh bread is served with a plate of olive oil, pepper and parmesan cheese before every meal.
But with all these fundamentals covered, the prevalent and most talked about attraction is a large art deco style mural that provides an instant allure of escape and sets the tone of the restaurant.
“I wanted something special that complimented the beautiful Majestic Theater,” said owner Mehrdad Ghaffari, who explained the inspiration of the mural. “I suggested famous actors and singers of Hollywood that would bring the dining and theater experience together.”
“I met the artist by accident,” smiles Ghaffari as he gazes up at the large wall painting that spans an entire side of his restaurant. “I asked around and that led to Alex Brochon.”
Guests are immediately intrigued with recognizing some of the movie stars depicted, but others will continue to study Brochon’s work to resolve the inspiration– and wonder who extra subjects are– of the piece.
Mehrdad and Brochon met to discuss the feel and style of the mural before the restaurant opened.
“That was so long ago,” remembers Brochon. “The ‘inspiration’ was a clipping from a book on art deco restaurants. There was a picture of some figures in a mural behind a bar in a restaurant in Miami. I just went from there.”
“Some of the figures are loosely based on other deco period paintings such as the works by Tamara De Limpecka,” added Brochon. “Since that mural, nearly 12 years ago, I’ve done several other paintings and murals in a related vein.”
Brando gets the most smiles
“The ‘rat pack’ seems to be very well received as well as images of Bogard and Monroe,” observes the artist. “I’ve done two paintings in oil of the rat pack playing pool from scenes in Ocean’s Eleven.”
Favorites of the patrons are Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra at one elegant table. Marilyn Monroe is posed in her famous tight white dress, just behind Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame.
Sexy, bedroom-eyed women in stylish dress, with debonair gentlemen, are rendered in memorable vintage Hollywood poses.
“Brando gets the most smiles,” said catering manager and marketing coordinator John Curry. “And of course, Marilyn Monroe is a favorite of many.”
Alex Brochon is renown in Texas as a versatile artist whose work includes a New Braunfels Hoffmann Building exterior mural in tribute to Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer, the father of Texas botany. His sculpture work includes “The Gladiator,” a skeleton and bones carved guitar.
The National Hotel in Miami has a signature restaurant named Tamara, after Tamara de Lempicka, whose famous artwork appears throughout the hotel.
Born in Poland in 1898, Lempicka fled to Paris during the Russian Revolution and began art for a living. Her strong use of color, and sharp style soon found her to be in demand as a portrait artist by the rich.
Famous for her libido, she carried out in ways that were scandalous at the time. Her portraits were often described as producing “overpowering effects of desire and seduction.”
The mural is divided into two sections, each about 5’ x 12’ in size. Twenty-six characters, including Humphrey Bogart, are portrayed around nine chic dining tables..
“I don’t do a lot of these pieces but when I do they always seem to be a hit,” said Brochon.
For more information:
Houston Street Bistro, 204 E. Houston, San Antonio, TX 78205. (210) 476-8700. The restaurant offers a full bar, catering to downtown businesses and residents, box lunches, River Walk dinner barges and a nearby wild west event site that can hold up to 100 people.
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