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Meet Namita Asthana of Off The Vine Bistro in Sugar Land and Missouri City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Namita Asthana.

Namita, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Sometimes, you need to go back to basics. Cooking food from scratch with locally sourced and produced foods. We hand pound our homegrown spices as well as blend our own teas. Come in and experience what fresh tastes like!

It took our family years to recognize that food allergies were the reason we were all hurting for all these years. Dairy and Gluten came out as the front-runners. It was time to take our lives back in control. Our kids were getting ready to go off to college, taking some learning from home was going to be crucial.

My first foray was a line of Gluten Free Simmer Sauces that set the stage for a healthy and tasteful start. They were simmered sauces, with no added sugars and fats and very low salt to energize and excite the palate, without compromising nutrition and freshness. That evolved into interactive cooking classes and then to catering with meals made using those sauces.

The bistro, since its inception, has adhered to the mantra of “Pure, Fresh, Local”. We strive to provide flavorful, nutritious food without comprising on the integrity of our ingredients. Today the Bistro also offers a comprehensive list of old and new world wines, craft beers and locally roasted coffee paired with farm to table foods to satisfy the curious, the adventurous and the savvy. Off The Vine Bistro and Wine Bar serves grass-fed beef and bison, locally sourced produce and we fly in out wild Pacific salmon from the northwest.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Delicious is not enough.

It is tricky to eat healthy food with rich taste and flavor.

We chose our current location as a facility suited for our Simmer Sauces, but it has evolved into manifesting itself as a Farm to Table Restaurant and Wine Bar. The location is not visibility-friendly, being tucked away in the middle of a small strip mall. That said, we have done our best to deliver consistent food and wine experiences to our loyal, repeat customer base who seem to enjoy our offerings and come back over and over again, in spite of our obscure location.

It has not been a smooth road. In the world of “natural” food, we’ve had many learnings along the way – for instance, grass-finished and grass-fed are not the same, and wild-salmon does not mean it’s wild-caught-pacific-salmon. We’ve learned to buy fresh, local and to fit it into the price envelope that’s amenable to our clientele. And pair it with some, even if we do say so ourselves, exquisite wines from around the country and the world.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Good food, along with good wine/beer, in a good environment, is a memory-making experience.

Good food heals and energizes you. At the Bistro we serve locally sourced, grass fed, no anti-biotic meats and vegetables from local ranchers and farmers. We serve these ingredients, using the framework of a multi-national cuisine, and put our own spin on it, creating unique dishes. All our meals are served from scratch; we mostly start chopping and cooking after the customer orders the food,

Good wines and beers are natural accompaniments to good food, and we source ours from the very best. Our wine list, curated by our wine director, feature wines from California, Oregon, Washington, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, and Australia. And craft beers from Texas, Belgium, Germany, and the UK.

We’re a hight touch, high service joint! You’re in our living room, so relax and enjoy a good evening with good food, good wines/beers, good background music, and an excellent ambulance.

Speaking of music, we do feature live, local music most Saturdays of the month.

For the last 3 years, the bistro holds wine-paired dinners twice a month, anywhere from 3 – 9 courses. These dinners are either cuisine led or wine led.

The bistro does wine tastings which are a big hit for group events, birthday parties, and team building activities.

The bistro is also available for a large group event (for up to 12 people) and private parties (as a full bistro rental for up to 50 people).

What were you like growing up?
Family. Cooking is always about family.

For me, cooking is a skill that has now become easy, after years of watching fabulous dishes come out of our family kitchen and all that without any recipe books. I tried to duplicate them and present them back to my family and the consensus was, “This is yummy, but not how I used to make it”. Over a period of time, across three continents, I came up with my own recipes and styles that I like to call “Houstonian”.

Growing up I was always outside the box, wanting to do something different. I trained in the IT industry and taught software! My husband owns a consulting & software business, and with him, we have traveled all over and imbibed the foods and drinks across many, many cities and countries! He helps at the Bistro over the weekends and his knowledge of global wines, beers, and fine dining have been a valuable asset to the bistro.

A little family secret – for many years we pretended, at home with the kids growing up, that I ran a restaurant at home for the family, Chez Maman! What a blast it was! As the kids were leaving for college, they remarked that I better open one for real, and here we are!

I stepped into my dreams and I am loving every minute of it!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Good Eats Houston, Allison Jayroe Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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