The Dunlavy is breathtakingly romantic. (Photo by Ama by Aisha)
Clark Cooper Concepts puts on a tasty face at The Dunlavy for Special Friends event. (Photo by LeZu Photography)
Weekend brunch at The Dunlavy is always a delight. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
The Dunlavy named one of the most romantic restaurants in the world. (Photo by Ama by Aisha)
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership dinner at the Dunlavy was an evening to remember.
The dinner table setting at The Dunlavy for a handful of special invitation-only guests at the Quintessentially, Hennessy, De Beers dinner in 2017. (Photo by LeZu Photography)
There’s one romantic spot in Houston that stands out from the rest. Studded in sparkling chandeliers, nestled in the greenery high above Buffalo Bayou Park, The Dunlavy has long been one of the most stunning restaurant and event venues in the city.
Don’t believe us? Just ask CNN — they dubbed it one of the most romantic restaurants in the entire world.
But perhaps calling the popular wedding and special event venue a “restaurant” was a stretch. Yes, The Dunlavy served breakfast, brunch and lunch from 7 am until 2 pm. Still, unless you were headed to a private soiree, you’d never have the chance to dine there in evening in the glow of the candlelight.
Soon, you will. The Dunlavy is ushering in a new era as a full-service restaurant, starting January of 2020. The glorious dining room will finally open its doors to the public after nightfall, with an all-new menu and dinner service.
“We’ve done the private events in conjunction with breakfast and lunch for three-plus years, and it’s been very successful,” Grant Cooper, owner of Clark Cooper Concepts, tells PaperCity. “We had great feedback. But over the past years, from feedback we knew a lot of people wished they could experience The Dunlavy even more.
“After three years of listening and taking in the thoughts, we decided to go ahead and make that change.”
While The Dunlavy succeeded in its operations as an event venue and restaurant, Cooper believes the transition will make the most of what The Dunlavy has to offer, and make things seamless.
The Dunlavy will honor all the contracts its signed for private events through 2020, but it will not accept reservations for new private events after January 1, 2020.
“It’s time to bring more creativity to the Houston community, as we transition to a full-service restaurant,” Cooper notes.
Expect chef-driven dishes taking the restaurant to the next level.
“Our vision for the menu is a California vibe, California-style eating with locally sourced ingredients and Houston hospitality. That’s the CliffsNotes version,” Cooper laughs. “A lot of people like that California vibe and mojo, the sense of how ingredients are utilized, and the freshness.”
The sweeping changes also mean that the current breakfast, brunch and lunch menus will be transformed as The Dunlavy goes from fast casual to full-service.
“Certainly we’ll have the capability, as strictly a restaurant, not having to prep during the middle of the day to do more plated dishes for breakfast and lunch.,” Cooper says.
Chef Jane Wild will craft the menu alongside Cooper and his team.
You may even be able to sample some of these fresh new dishes before The Dunlavy’s evolution opens. Dinner pop-up series have been popular in the past.
“We could potentially do that, we could do that. We may do one of two (pop-ups) as we get close to dinner service,” Cooper says.
He promises a unique dining experience, one that Houston has never seen.
“Just as far as the location, the aesthetics of it. We’ve had rave reviews about the sense of place. The sense of arrival once you get into the space, then such a beautiful, memorable dining experience,” Cooper says.
“I think it is by far one of the most unique views and locations in all of the city.”
No Occasion is Too Small
While The Dunlavy signals sophistication, don’t think of it as a birthday party or date night-only restaurant.
“I see it as a go-to place, not just for special occasions. You’ll be able to go whenever you want to go, if you’re by the park, walking with a friend, or on the way to the theater Downtown and want to slip in and have a nice meal,” Cooper says.
“You know it’s always open, you know it’s always good, you know we’re always using fresh ingredients.”
Cooper hopes The Dunlavy leaves a lasting impression after every meal. “A great dining experience — that’s when it kind of tantalizes all of your senses, the sight of it, the smell, the music. I want people to feel like they’ve been transported on a little mini vacation,” he says.
“And when you walk out, I want you to feel better about yourself than when you walked in.”
Dinner at The Dunlavy definitely has a nice ring to it.