On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Steak 48 owner Jeff Mastro joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his contemporary steakhouse in River Oaks District. It's a rare opportunity to hear from Mastro, whose restaurant has been a smash hit since it opened in the summer of 2016.
Mastro, Sandler, and co-host Nathan Ketcham cover a variety of topics, including the ways Steak 48 is different from other steakhouses; how Mastro developed the restaurant's interior to offer a variety of experiences; and why he got back into the business after selling his first concept — Mastro's Steakhouse — to a private equity group (who then sold it to Landry's, Inc.). Sandler also raises more controversial topics such as what Mastro thinks of the new Mastro's Steakhouse that just opened in Houston and what his reaction was to Chronicle critic Alison Cook's infamous 0-star review of Steak 48.
As for the future, Mastro shares that he and his partners are looking to bring Steak 48 to Dallas; Miami; and Washington, DC. Later this year, they will open a seafood-oriented sister concept called Ocean 44 in Scottsdale, Arizona, that could eventually make its way to Houston. What's the key to a successful seafood restaurant, Sandler asks?
"The key is, you're going to have a seafood concept, but it's still going to have great steaks on the menu," Mastro says. "We've found that you get four people who go out to dinner, not all four people want to get fish. That's what we've found. You might have two people who get fish and two people who get steak. That's important. We've seen some concepts where they go, and they're seafood-only. It's a lot harder. We're all about giving people options."
Prior to Mastro joining the show, Sandler and Ketcham discuss the news of the week. Their topics include a lengthy discussion about Lyric Market, the 31,000-square-foot food hall coming to downtown later this year; Sandler's inside story of how he learned Agricole Hospitality was opening Night Heron in the former Lowbrow space; New Orleans-based hot dog purveyor Dat Dog's prospects in the Houston market; and Perry's Steakhouse's plans to open in River Oaks. In the restaurant of the week segment, the duo offer more details about the highs and lows of their very expensive meal at Mastro's Steakhouse.