On this week’s episode of “What’s Eric Eating,” One Fifth chef-owner Chris Shepherd and chef de cuisine Nick Fine join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the transition from One Fifth Steak into One Fifth Romance Languages, which will open September 1.
Shepherd isn’t quite ready to provide too many details about what dishes will or won’t be on the menu, although he did suggest it will change more than the steakhouse’s relatively static offerings. Fine is a little more gregarious; he shares that his enthusiasm for making fresh pasta will definitely find a home on One Fifth's new menu. During the conversation, the duo also reveal that they’re considering charcuterie in the form of terrines and large format items like cast iron paella for the restaurant.
Perhaps the most surprising detail is that the celebrated “baller board,” a three-foot long wooden plank loaded with the chef’s choice of meat and sides that was a signature of One Fifth Steak, won’t appear at Romance Languages.
“It’s dead,” Fine says. “It’s amazing to think we built a restaurant for seven months, and we came up with all these great ideas. The hardest part is for us being able to take all these ideas and having to throw them completely away, because we don’t want someone to come in and be, like, ‘they did the same thing they just used different ingredients’ . . . It’s taking an idea like the baller board and being, like, nope, we have to do something different.”
Shepherd also discusses how his trip to Italy helped him learn about Italian food and provides brief updates on his various other projects, including a cookbook that will come out in 2019, his role in helping to transform the Houston Farmers’ Market, and this year’s edition of the Southern Smoke fundraiser.
Prior to Shepherd joining the show, local restaurant consultant Nathan Ketcham and Sandler discuss the news of the week. Topics include the arrival of legal poker in the Galleria area thanks to the Post Oak Poker Club, pitmaster Jim Buchanan’s departure from Pappa Charlies Barbeque to start Buck’s Barbeque Co., and the status of Finn Hall, a new food hall downtown that will open next year.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Sandler and Ketcham share their first impressions of Fielding’s Rooster, the new chicken restaurant in The Woodlands whose owners, Cary Attar and chef Edel Goncalves, appeared on a recent episode of the podcast. They also discuss their affection for the newly introduced New York-style pizza at Pizaro’s and discuss whether Galleria-area French restaurant La Table is quietly one of the best restaurants in Houston.