It's not everyday we get an update on one of the most anticipated restaurants of the year. Underbelly, the first solo restaurant from chef Chris Shepherd of Catalan fame, is still under construction, but we've got some new details to share.
A new press release says the restaurant is scheduled for a November 2011 opening. We've been around long enough not to believe an early opening date whole cloth, but we have high hopes of being in the restaurant before the end of the year.
As far as what to expect on the menu, Underbelly aims to tell 'the Story of Houston Food,' focusing on Shepherd's "journey as a chef, in a city he describes as "the most secretive and dynamic culinary destination in the country.'" Shepherd says to expect weekly menus and a unique and extreme take on what constitutes Southern cooking, with an emphasis on Houston ingredients from produce to seafood to meats. To focus on the protein, Underbelly will have a full in-house butchery.
“Chris doesn’t just cook food inspired by the city I grew up in, he embodies it in every way,” Bobby Heugel says.
Underbelly is taking roughly half the former Chances space, which will also house craft beer bar Hay Merchant by partners Bobby Heugel and Kevin Floyd of Anvil fame. Collaborative Projects is overseeing the design, splitting the current floor plan and restoring the building to a "contemporary farmhouse, with soaring, barn-like ceilings and handcrafted American walnut tables" as well as mix-and-match chairs donated by Shepherd's friends, a 35-seat community table that runs alongside the open kitchen, a small patio and an epic wine cellar.
“Chris doesn’t just cook food inspired by the city I grew up in, he embodies it in every way,” Heugel says.
Are you excited about Underbelly? What are you hoping to see in the restaurant and on the menu?