Katy residents may have lost their access to crawfish ravioli and wood-fired pizzas when D'Amico's Italian Market Cafe closed its LaCenterra location last week, but Hospitality USA, the bar and restaurant group behind Baker St. Pub and Local Pour, thinks it has developed something that will be more successful in the bustling shopping and entertainment district.
Described as a "healthy-living, healthy-eating concept with a premium placement on tasty menu items with mass appeal," Restless Palate looks poised to blend the success of restaurants like True Food Kitchen and Barnaby's into a family-friendly, counter service package. The restaurant is slated for a mid-April opening.
To develop the menu for Restless Palate, HUSA tapped Eatsie Boy Matt Marcus, who's on his second consulting gig since his Montrose cafe closed last year. After helping James Coney Island (now JCI Grill) add a couple of chicken sandwiches to its recently-introduced Chili Parlor Menu, Marcus has turned his attention to this new, healthy-eating concept. For those used to Eatsie signature dishes like pork snuggies or gravy-topped disco biscuits, Marcus might seem like an unlikely choice, but the chef tells CultureMap he's got it under control.
"I’m a pretty well-trained chef who’s cooked in all types of cuisine. As a chef, you can’t rely on butter and salt to make things delicious," Marcus says. "A lot of people are learning more about what they’re eating, and most people are looking for a healthy option (when dining out)."
Marcus didn't want to give too much away about Restless Palate's menu, but he did offer a couple of teases. The restaurant will incorporate popular trends like avocado toast with poached egg, as well as Houston-inspired dishes like catfish banh mi, and global flavors like chilled avocado soup with crab meat edamame roasted garlic hummus. And, yes, kale's on the menu.
"Of course there’s kale," Marcus says with a laugh. "What’s a health food restaurant without a little kale?"
Marcus remains a partner in the Eatsie Boys Food Truck and 8th Wonder Brewery but isn't directly involved with their day-to-day operations. "Why would I cook on the truck when I have someone like Miles (White, Eatsie Boys truck manager) who does an amazing job," he notes.
For now, he's focused on consulting, because it gives him a creative outlet to showcase the diverse skill set he acquired working a Michelin-starred restaurants like Cyrus and The Fat Duck. Still, he could return to full-time restaurant cooking someday.
"I do have a restaurant concept that I’ve built in my head. I’m just waiting for the right person to partner with me, or the right time in my life, I guess," Marcus says. "Right now, consulting is where it’s at."