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2 new restaurants led by Michelin-starred chefs opening at MFAH’s Kinder Building this spring

2 new restaurants led by Michelin-starred chefs opening at the MFAH this spring (copyright 2018 Shannon O'Hara)

HOUSTON – New York City-based Bastion Restaurants, the hospitality company that operates La Table in Uptown Houston, will debut two new restaurants at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s Kinder Building this spring, according to a release.

Café Leonelli and Le Jardinier will open in the MFAH’s new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. Both will be helmed by Michelin-starred chefs -- Jonathan Benno will lead Café Leonelli, and Alain Verzeroli will lead Le Jardinier. Café Leonelli will open in March and Le Jardinier will follow in April.

“We have been in Houston for the past decade with our concept La Table and have seen firsthand how this city is such a great incubator of culinary talent,” said Antonio Begonja, COO of Bastion Restaurants, formerly known as Invest Hospitality in the release. “To that end, we wanted to bring the brands we developed in New York and Miami to this culturally diverse community so they can continue to grow.”

Cafe Leonelli—led by Michelin Star Chef Jonathan Benno—will feature buffet-style service, with traditional Italian cuisine including pasta, polenta, focaccia, and more. The café will also offer pastries from Bastion’s Executive Pastry Chef and Michelin Star recipient Salvatore Martone.

Bastion’s second concept opening in the MFAH -- Le Jardinier, the French word for “gardener”-- is led by Michelin Star Chef Alain Verzeroli. The restaurant is based in French culinary technique and is “inspired by the seasonality of ingredients, utilizing each at the peak of its potential,” according to a release. The restaurant will offer outdoor seating overlooking MFAH’s sculpture garden.

“Houston is bustling, and we are excited to seize this opportunity with the Museum of Fine Arts to bring our combined expertise of high-quality cuisine and hospitality to the area,” said Benno. “We are thrilled to be in a premier location and are confident that both restaurants and our culinary creations will offer a natural extension of the world-renowned art at the museum.”

The restaurant and café are situated in adjacent spaces within the Kinder Building. The locations will be accessible from inside the museum and through an entrance on Main Street.

The Kinder Building opened in late November 2020. The building houses MFAH’s international collections of modern and contemporary art.

The building’s opening marked the completion of the museum’s multi-year expansion of MFAH’s Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus.

Designed by Steven Holl Architects, the Kinder Building boasts more than 100,000 square feet of exhibition space circling a three-level atrium. Seven gardens and six reflecting pools are inset along the building’s perimeter. The building increased MFAH exhibition space by nearly 75 percent, according to the museum’s website.

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