At Off The Vine Bistro, staff said color and presentation are key. The farm-to-table restaurant, owned by the husband and wife team of Manish and Namita Asthana, emphasizes fresh, locally sourced dishes and a well-paired drink.
Recipes are a combination of influences from the Asthanas’ native India to Belgium, where Manish’s job in the oil and gas industry took the family.
“We looked at where we are living here right now and the variety and taste palette that is so open and so diverse,’” Namita said. “So we call our cuisine, like my son would say, ‘Houstonian.’”
Off The Vine features several gluten-free and vegetarian dishes, but the restaurant can also accommodate dietary needs, such as dairy or soy intolerance. Namita said her struggles with food allergies as well as those of her family inspired the restaurant’s menu.
While trying to improve her family’s health in addition to her own, Namita began making a line of gluten-free simmer sauces.
“When we put it out there in the Farmers Market [at Imperial in Sugar Land], we found a lot of acceptance,” she said.
Eventually, the Asthanas decided to open an entire restaurant to showcase Namita’s recipes and Manish’s wine and beer passion.
In an effort to buy local, much of Off The Vine’s ingredients come from Namita’s connections at the farmers market as well as from around Texas. Suppliers include beef from Katerra Exotics in Katy, produce from Plant It Forward in Houston, Brazos Valley Cheese in Waco and honey from Big Creek Farms in Shepherd.
“When [food is] presented that fresh and pure, it has its own flavor palette,” Namita said.
The Asthanas opened Off The Vine in Missouri City on Sept. 1, 2015. Namita said the first major challenge was low street visibility.
“We also realized that just opening the door doesn’t mean business comes in,” she said. “So we ended up creating lots of different events that we hold at our location.”
Those events include wine and beer tastings, and “spirit nights,” when proceeds from the restaurant go to a community group or cause. Off The Vine also caters events, rents out the restaurant, holds live music and offers a pet-friendly patio.
Starting in October, Off The Vine will have a wine club to stock customers’ own selections at the restaurant. When it comes to beverages, Manish is the in-house expert.
He said finding the right wines and beers for each dish is a special skill, but he said customers are usually willing to try things that are off the beaten path.
“Wine knowledge is a very weird blend of art and science,” he said.
Manish said a second location is the goal, but he could not say when that would happen.
“This is an extension and a representation of our personalities,” he said. “We need to make sure—the next one—we can do justice to it.”
Off the Vine Bistro
2865 Dulles Ave., Missouri City
Hours: Mon. and Sat. 4-9 p.m., Tue.-Thu. 11 a.m.- 9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., closed Sundays
Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-6 p.m.