From Texas to Florida

Chris Shepherd keeps things close to home for the new version of One Fifth

Chris Shepherd keeps things close to home for new version of One Fifth

Chris Shepherd One Fifth
Chris Shepherd is once again changing the restaurant's concept. Photo by John Davidson

Chris Shepherd’s evolving restaurant One Fifth is ready for its next iteration. After getting inspiration from overseas for Romance Languages and Mediterranean, the chef and his team are keeping things a little closer to home for the fourth version of his restaurant that changes concepts every year for five years.

The new One Fifth will be an ode to the Gulf Coast: “from Texas to Florida, earth to ocean,” according to an announcement by the chef’s company, Underbelly Hospitality. Instead of a full month to convert from one concept to another, the restaurant will only shut down for two weeks. Gulf Coast opens August 12.

The chef tells CultureMap that the concept evolved out of his original plan to open a One Fifth Seafood restaurant, but he wanted a more diverse menu.

“[I decided] I don’t just want to do seafood. I want to do the panhandle of Texas to the panhandle of Florida,” Shepherd says. “If you live in this city, you love [this cuisine]. You love the influence of the Gulf waters and our famers and the culture we have here.”

The menu will be divided into several sections, including shells for all manner of shellfish preparations; small things for shareable plates, such as pimento cheese, hush puppies, and a new version of the Shepherd’s legendary pork belly with Steen’s cane syrup; big things for larger entrees, such as made-to-order jambalaya and a hearth-roasted ribeye; and, of course, desserts created by pastry director Victoria Dearmond.

For the first time, One Fifth will serve brunch on Sundays. Like UB Preserv, expect mostly dishes from the standard menu with few brunchier supplements.

Shepherd says he and his team have a natural affinity for this cuisine. Chef de cuisine Matt Staph’s family has a place in Rockport. Dearmond grew up near Lake Jackson. Both he and Underbelly Hospitality culinary director worked at Brennan’s.

“We love this food,” Shepherd says. “You can put everybody’s heart and soul into it. I’ve learned a lot with this concept over the past four years. If you can’t put your heart into it, it feels weird. This is awesome. I’m so excited.”

While both One Fifth Steak and Romance Languages had prices that made the restaurant more oriented toward special occasions, Mediterranean offered a lower priced, more casual atmosphere. That will continue with Gulf Coast.

“I’m putting a TV in the damn bar,” Shepherd says. “I want this to be your fun-loving, let’s get down and dirty and place.”

While Mediterranean is going away temporarily, it won’t be gone for good. Shepherd and business partner Todd Mason have already started to search for a space to give it a permanent home. Shepherd says he contemplated scrapping the One Fifth concept and trying to extend the lease on its current building, but the 100-year old church would require too much of an investment to update it properly.

“A lot of my guys want to see the five concepts through,” he adds. “It was, like, yeah, you’re right.”