Houston >Arts & Entertainment > Avant Garden
411 Westheimer, Houston, TX | Directions 7700629.744428 -95.386476
Neighborhoods: Neartown/ Montrose, Central
Forever grateful to the owner and staff of this local treasure! When my husband first proposed and we began wedding planning, I knew that Avantgarden was going to be the perfect venue for us. I am an artist and my husband is a musician, we have eclectic tastes and both of us have been patrons of this bar/venue for years. It is a beautiful old two-story building in the Montrose area of Houston with lots of wonderful history, an antiquated and bohemian ambiance, a lovely front garden porch, and an amazing back open patio. It is picturesque to say the least.
We chose a fun, themed "vintage sideshow circus" wedding which was going to take lots of customization with the planning and decor to make it happen, and Mariana, the owner, was extremely accommodating and offered many suggestions for the rentals, catering, and valet services to help us out. She had wine and beer special ordered for us by request. She and her staff were well prepared for our event, which was costumed ( and they even all dressed up to fit the theme, which they didn't have to do, but it made it all the better! )
We had approximately 160 guests, and Avantgarden accommodated this well. The valet service that we used was invaluable, though, as there is limited parking, but this made it very easy for our guests to come and go. We did more of a cocktail reception since we had so many guests. Half of the back patio was turned into a circus arena with lights, circus tent awning, cotton candy and popcorn! After the vows our guests enjoyed an aerial acrobatics show and other various sideshow performances, while music was DJ'd inside for a late night dance party, and we ended the performances with a burlesque show upstairs. I think I heard the phrase "coolest wedding EVER" at least a dozen times, and many guests were commenting on how amazing the venue (Avantgarden) was.
It was THE wedding to remember and it would not have been nearly as amazing as it was at any other venue or without the assistance of Mariana and her staff. I know that there have been several weddings/receptions at Avantgarden and I know that by far ours has been the most unique, but to future prospects for various events just know that no matter the theme, the sky is the limit, Mariana will help make it happen if you can imagine it!
Terrible Business Practices – I was married here this weekend and though my wedding was beautiful it was almost ruined by the owner and staff.
We had a contract set up three months prior that we would be paying a set amount. We paid the deposit and everything was fine. On the day of the wedding the valet guy (the only one we were allowed to use) called and said we could either pay him a set amount up front or twice as much per car as the contract said. We referred the contract and he said though they do business together he did not sign that or agree to it so we paid the upfront fee. I am now hearing that he was charging people to park, some of my guests refused and parked along the street or in lots and were towed, those who knew we paid up front told him and he said "Oh yea I forgot".
During the ceremony the owner was on her phone walking up and down the isle. She walked down the isle after my mother was seated and almost walked through again right before me but someone stopped her. She walked through the reception carrying things and was not even pleasant to guests.
The absolute worst part was when she waited until my husband was drunk and got him to sign something saying we would pay gratuity, when it was written in the contract that we wouldn't and tip jars would be used instead (which they had 4 of them -2 feet tall each- that were full).
We also had another business dealing that branched from our impending wedding that she has not paid for.
We have been going to this establishment for years and always had a good time as simply patrons and if you do have anything to do with this place I would say just show up on the weekends and have a good time, do not rent it out.
Great for Parties! – I planned a launch party for a group of web developers (iDK Boundaries). The owner Mariana was a great help and accommodated us with everything we needed. She even offered us help in finding affordable catering.
The historic house was perfect for the party. The patio is absolutely beautiful. The staff was helpful, quick and friendly. Althouh the parking lot is a tad bit small, they made up for it by having affordable valet parking.
If your looking to host a big party Avant Garden is great choice for any event. They have a nice drink selection, and if I have not stressed this enough....you MUST try the sangria!
lives up to it's title – this is a great little social club/lounge. it's in the low end of westheimer on montrose so it tends to attract 'off ' types - sort of like the agora. but that's a big part of it's character. they put together interesting cultural events and shows...of varying quality, but there's a lot of heart there. it's certainly not a sports bar or testosterone pumped up hang out like the gingerman over in the rice village. you're morle likely to see belly dancing upstairs (most tuesday's), and a dj on the main floor spinning world-house tunes. other events are tango dancing, flamenco dancing, life drawing...wine and cheese events. it's a great place to take a first (or even second) date. they have a terrific front porch and yard seating. also, a large back yard seating area and an upstairs balcony that's usually open. so if what's going on in one place isn't your thing, you can always find a place to get away to. the people working the bar are cool and there's no pressure to buy a lot of product. most shows have no cover.
Great location, lame service – Visited this place for the first time last night- a Tuesday- and it wasn't too busy which was nice and to be expected for a weeknight. Great ambience- the old house is beautiful and the decor is both hip and non-presumptuous. The crowd seems cool- a blend of guys and girls of all different races and nothing odd gong on between the patrons of different races like you might find at other bars. Overall this seemed like my kind of place. After fighting for a parking space, my fiance (male) and I (female) both stood at the small bar downstairs in the front room waiting to be served. We were both nicely dressed, and smiled at the bartender as we waited for him to serve the 2 or 3 patrons ahead of us. But as soon as he had served the people ahead of us (all male), he decided to take care of the people (also all males) who had walked up behind us and were also waiting for drinks. We've never really had this problem before, so I turned to my fiance and quietly asked him if he'd tried to get the bartender's attention, or if perhaps the bartender was ignoring us for some strange reason. Not knowing if there was a secret code or signal we needed to share with the bartender in order to be served, we waited for few more minutes as the rest of our mid- to late- twenty-something adult professional crowd joined us at the bar. We continued to get the cold-shoulder from the bartender, and not having been asked once in a 30-minute time period during the slow Tuesday evening if we'd like to order, we all walked out. I'm not quite sure what the bartender had against making money on a Tuesday night, but apparently we hadn't been taught the proper secret handsign to display in order to be served. It's a real shame the owner/manager is allowing bartenders' bad attitudes to ruin the concept and execution of this place.
The century-old home in Montrose is a little quieter since the Helios days, but every bit as cool. – In Short
The three-story historic venue still carries the same independent, artistic spirit as the once popular Helios, but the atmosphere is decidedly more laid-back and loungey than before. Upstairs, live music tends toward the acoustic with live jazz on Tuesdays, local acoustic performers on Thursdays, live salsa music with DJ Chris on Sundays, electronic music, and frequent performance arts events. A combo of furnishings and atmospheric touches adds to the intimate feel of the space. There's another party scene on the patio.
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