The Heights's status as Houston's hottest dining neighborhood is a recent development. New arrivals like Southern Goods, Cane Rosso, Hunky Dory, and Bernadine's have transformed 19th Street into a powerhouse restaurant row, but that doesn't mean more established Heights restaurants are resting on their laurels. Recently, one of the neighborhood's pioneers has made some changes that should ensure it continues its 13-year track record of success.
Shade, the Southern comfort food restaurant owned by Claire Smith (also the proprietor of Woodbar and Canopy in Montrose), announced Thursday that it has a new face in the kitchen and a new look in the dining room.
With stints at top Houston restaurants like Brasserie 19, Holley's, and Underbelly, newly hired executive chef Kenten Marin brings a diverse set of experiences to his new role. Raised in Peru, Marin's fresh perspective will see both new items and a fresh perspective to Shade classics like shrimp and grits.
Other changes are still under development, but recent additions include boar-stuffed zucchini with blistered tomatoes, quinoa risotto with roasted vegetables, and scallop pappardelle with aji amarillo sauce and herb butter. The restaurant has even gotten in on the suddenly white hot poke trend with a version that utilizes snapper and is served with taro chips.
As for the interior changes, Smith tapped local design firm RMMR Projects to open up the space. Inspired by the outdoors, the aim has been to create a relaxed, vacation-style vibe. Changes include removing posts in the entranceway to open it up and allow more light from the front windows, additional seating in the bar area, and new, custom-made tables.
"We wanted Shade to still feel like a neighborhood space, keeping in mind the eclecticism and friendliness of the Heights,” said RMMR's Amanda Medsger in a statement. "We achieved this by both opening the space and encouraging more of an interaction with the 19th Street life. We chose shades of white, relaxing and bright shades of blue and other natural feeling materials, seen in the stone, wood wall, plants, ceramics, and fabric choices."
Now open for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, additional changes will see a walkup coffee window, an update of the restaurant's patio, and the addition of sidewalk tables to capitalize on 19th Street's pedestrian-friendly demeanor.
"Just like Claire, we love the small town feel of the Heights and wanted to stay true to that while being inspired by the walkability of urban European streets," Medsger added. "We really aimed to contribute to 19th Street in a way that encourages it to be more sociable and walkable, to add another layer of design that gave people something to look at, not just while inside dining but also when strolling and 'window shopping.'"