Swank New Digs For Familiar Restaurant

Inside the new Saks Fifth Avenue, 51Fifteen set to open with new chef and new look

51Fifteen set to open in the new Saks with new chef and new look

51Fifteen rendering bar
A rendering shows the bar for the new 51Fifteen. Image by Contour Interior Design
51Fifteen Stefon Rishel Chad Wherry
Executive chef Stefon Rishel and general manager Chad Wherry come to the restaurant from Max Wine Dive in Fort Worth. Photo by Kimberly Park
51Fifteen Satellite bar rendering
The first-story satellite bar will be at the base of a circular staircase. Image by Contour Interior Design
51Fifteen rendering bar and lounge
A rendering of the bar and lounge area. Image by Contour Interior Design
51Fifteen rendering dining room
A rendering of the dining room. Image by Contour Interior Design
51Fifteen lounge rendering
Another look at the lounge. Image by Contour Interior Design
51Fifteen rendering bar
51Fifteen Stefon Rishel Chad Wherry
51Fifteen Satellite bar rendering
51Fifteen rendering bar and lounge
51Fifteen rendering dining room
51Fifteen lounge rendering

One of the Galleria's most popular lunch spots will be making some big changes in 2016. As part of the renovations that will see Saks Fifth Avenue relocate to a new, two-story, 210,000-square-foot store, its restaurant 51Fifteen will have a new home, too.

Owner Landmark Hospitality Group announced some of the details for the space starting with a projected opening date of April 28 (the current location will close April 20). At 9,800-square feet, the new location dwarves the current restaurant's 5,700-square feet. Overall capacity rises to over 200 people, and the space also features a 100-person private dining room. Even the parking will be better thanks to a dedicated elevator from the Galleria's purple lot and valet from Westheimer. 

Conceived by Houston designer Nina Magon of Contour Interior Design, the restaurant's interior features a palate of white, black, gray, and brass with mid-century modern pieces that Landmark says will give the space "a one-of-a-kind" look. Whether that look is appealing or not may be as controversial as the company's recently shuttered steakhouse Mr. Peeples, but it certainly won't be the same old Edison bulbs and reclaimed wood that dominates much of Houston's restaurant design.

“We wanted to create a space unlike anything in Houston,” said Magon in a statement. “It’s very unique with lots of design surprises. Every time a diner visits 51Fifteen they can have a different experience, depending upon where they sit.” 

Both executive chef Stefon Rishel and general manager Chad Wherry come to 51Fifteen from the Max's Wine Dive in Fort Worth. In particular, Rishel brings plenty of acclaim — and his signature pink mohawk — to the role, having won Best Dish at Taste of Fort Worth (2015), as well as Best Comfort Food (2014) and Best Brunch in Fort Worth (2014 and 2015) from Fort Worth, Texas magazine’s Best Of issues. 

The restaurant describes its menu as "chef-driven . . .  reminiscent of Southern European fare" that's made with locally sourced ingredients and is based on Rishel's interest in seafood. Yes, that means it will skip along the continent, incorporating Greek, Italian, French, and Spanish influences. Dishes range from Gulf coast bouillabaisse (made with redfish, Gulf stone crab, and shrimp) to foie gras terrine and seafood towers. Raw oysters with charred cucumber mignonette and baked oysters topped with lacinato kale, pancetta, and manchego may not be conventional, but Rishel promises they'll deliver.

"You’ll see some unconventional items on my menu but at the end of the day, what matters is if the flavor profiles work," he added.

That's not all. The second-story restaurant will also operate a first floor satellite bar. Located at the bottom of a spiral staircase near the women's fragrance counters, the bar will serve coffee and pastries in the morning as well as cocktails, wine, and light bites in afternoon and evening.  

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