On this week’s episode of CultureMap’s “What’s Eric Eating” podcast, Urban Swank bloggers Shanna Jones and Felice Sloan join food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the news of the week. The trio start with recent staff changes at prominent restaurants, including Danny Trace’s decision to sign on as the executive chef of Jim Crane two Italian restuarants, Osso & Kristalla and Potente, and Graham Laborde leaving Bernadine’s for a position working with Ronnie Killen.
Other topics include Claire Smith’s decision to close her restaurant Shade and replace it with a new concept called Alice Blue and what they’ll remember most about Sullivan’s Steakhouse, which will shutter next week.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Sandler, Sloan, and Jones describe the decadent meal they recently enjoyed at One Fifth, which included feasting on one of the restaurant’s signature baller boards. They also make some predictions about what dishes chef-owner Chris Shepherd and chef de cuisine Nick Fine might choose to include when the restaurant transitions to its “Romance Languages” incarnation later this year.
They wrap up the first half of the episode by discussing FM Kitchen & Bar, the new comfort food concept from former Triniti chef-owner Ryan Hildebrand. The restaurant’s mix of classics like burgers, milkshakes, and chicken fried steak with a full range of cocktails, wine, and craft beer earns praise from all three.
In the second half of the show Sandler and local bartender Chris Frankel have a conversation with Jonathan Horowitz about his work as both the CEO of Legacy Restaurants and the president of the Greater Houston Restaurant Association. Horowitz discusses some of the ways he’s working to keep two of Houston’s most iconic restaurant brand names — Legacy owns both The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation and Antone’s — relevant in 2017.
While Ninfa’s remains successful, Horowitz has sought to reinvigorate Antone’s by working with Ninfa’s executive chef Alex Padilla on a new menu of sandwiches designed to help the restaurant attract a broader audience. Legacy is also looking at new locations for both concepts.
Horowitz also offers some big picture thoughts about the current state of Houston’s restaurant industry. Building on an article he wrote for the Houston Business Journal, Horowitz describes what restaurants can do to maintain their existing customer base in the face of increased competition and how the current real estate market limits the ability of restaurants to expand.
Finally, he relates his own recent experience at One Fifth.
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