Eric Aldis is about to be Houston's busiest chef. Already executive chef of The Marque, the private club in CityCentre, Aldis tells CultureMap that he's working to open a barbecue joint in Midtown and has recently become the executive chef at River Oaks restaurant Corner Table.
Aldis has partnered with former Louie Mueller Barbecue pitmaster Brett Jackson to take over the space formerly occupied by Bourbon on Bagby for a restaurant called Midtown Barbecue. Until recently, Jackson has been operating a small smoker at neighborhood bar EaDo's, but that space lacks a proper kitchen.
Set to open in mid-April, Midtown Barbecue will be a more fully realized concept that blends Jackson's skills as a pitmaster with Aldis's culinary training.
"We’ve been working on it for awhile. As soon as Bourbon on Bagby moved out, the owner of the building called me and partnered with us," Aldis explains. "He said, 'I’m tired of these bars coming in and out. Let’s get something that will stay here.' I think we’ve got a good spot."
Jackson will contribute the techniques he learned at one of Texas's most acclaimed barbecue joints to items like brisket, beef ribs, homemade sausage, and chicken. Aldis is developing recipes for sides and homemade pickles. Mark Cox, who already works with Aldis on The Marque's menu, may contribute ideas as well. "He's kind of venturing off from anything he’s ever done. It’s going to be fun," Aldis says.
In addition to the traditional proteins, Aldis hopes to experiment with locally-sourced items like whole fish and lamb that have become his signature items at The Marque. That devotion to fresh fish extends to his Instagram account, where he frequently poses with the catch of the day.
As for Corner Table, Aldis recently took over for Brandon Lampert, who replaced reality TV star Ja'Nel Witt. Fans of the restaurant, fear not! Aldis promises to keep the restaurant squarely focused on the popular paleo diet.
Aldis met owners Darla Lexington and her daughter Michelle Coopwood at an event at The Marque. For now, he'll be introducing new menu items slowly, with the goal of having the entire menu transformed by April.
"Yeah, I’m gonna rock the paleo," Aldis says. "Just been elbows deep in it here in the kitchen, understanding the paleo. Going to take it to the next level."
He plans to get to that next level in a variety of ways. First of all, by introducing a paleo special of the day that will cater to regulars who eat at Corner Table multiple times per week. In addition, Aldis plans to expand the paleo taco and enchilada selection.
In terms of his time, Aldis will be at The Marque during the week, especially at lunch when the club's members frequent the dining room. He'll spend Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at Corner Table. Once Midtown Barbecue opens, he'll adjust again to help get that going.
"Very exciting times over here. My wife’s not too happy. I said, 'babe, these opportunities don’t come often. I’ll make it work,'" Aldis says. "She said, 'you better do the best job of creating systems for everybody that you’ve ever done.'"
If Aldis is going to succeed as Houston's busiest chef, he won't have any other choice.