We all have that place that we call our “go-to place.” Restoration Wine Bar in Lufkin is that for me and my friends, hands-down. This utterly charming restaurant, owned by Mark Hicks and Sam Baldwin, is a cozy place to nibble on cheese and fruit while tasting wines from all over the map. The pours are generous, the staff is inviting, and the 80-plus selection list is stocked with the finest wine. Not a wine drinker? That’s OK! They have over 40 different beers to satisfy any palate. With a cozy atmosphere and menu that allows for pairing french fries and champagne, as well a Saturday breakfast for a king, it’s sure to become your favorite neighborhood “go-to,” even if it’s not in your neighborhood.
I sat down with general manager April Unsell to ask her about what has made Restoration Wine Bar so successful.
Q: How was the wine bar born?
A: Restoration was born out of the idea that downtown Lufkin needed a fun place for people to enjoy a good meal with spirits and unwind as well as draw people to the historic district and enjoy the unique atmosphere that continues to develop.
Q: Why do you think everyone loves the atmosphere so much?
A: The atmosphere is fun, as well as the great food we serve, the unique building, and the memories it brings back to those who knew us as the Angelina Hotel. Customers that walk in immediately start looking up at the ceilings, looking at our unique decorations, and it makes them feel like they are visiting a piece of history. Its such a great atmosphere that people find it relaxing and comfortable.
Q: You guys have live music sometimes. Tell me when and what kind of music.
A: Every Thursday night we have open mic, where you can come share your talents with us; we have had comedians; a group of ladies playing violins; guitar players; and several great singers from many varieties of music. Every Friday and Saturday we have live music, which ranges from a saxophone player to jazz, country, old rock ’n’ roll and even our house favorite, Elvis.
Q: What are some of the customer favorites when it comes to food?
A: A lot of people say we have the best pizza and burgers in town. One of my favorites is our Strawberry Fields salad with our fat-free raspberry dressing, and our pita stuffed with grilled chicken, bacon, combo cheese, then topped with ranch and avocado. We also offer a great variety of cheeses you can’t find locally that go great with a glass of wine. Our customers’ favorite dessert is tuxedo cake. For the gluten-intolerant people, we have a gluten-free menu that includes pizzas, bread and bagels.
Q: Some might not know you guys serve breakfast. I’m obsessed with your beignets. What is the secret to your amazing breakfast?
A: We use only fresh ingredients, from our eggs to our hand-cut potatoes that we saute with garlic butter, green peppers and onions, to our fruit that we buy daily to ensure it always fresh. We make everything fresh to order, and while you are waiting for your breakfast, you can enjoy a mimosa.
Q: Let’s talk wine. I, of course, love your riesling. What are some customer favorites and what do you recommend?
A: We have over 80 different kinds of wine, but I would have to say some of our house favorites include our Cakebread Chardonnay, Prisoner, Robert Mondavi Cabernet aged in bourbon barrels, Moscato Italian Bubbles, Stella Rossa Sweet Red, Mas De Daumas Gassac Rosé, Selbach German Riesling, and our blend “E.”
Q: Tell me about other features at Restoration.
A: We have a great patio that we offer at no charge for parties, or you can just come in and enjoy lunch or dinner. We are even pet-friendly on our patio. We have daily lunch specials and a great happy hour from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday where you can get a glass of wine for just $3 along with happy hour food. We are also available for private parties on Sunday and Mondays; call for details.