By any measure, The Heights remains one of Houston’s hottest dining neighborhoods. New additions such as Hopdoddy, Verdine, and Squable demonstrate that the area appeals to both savvy local operators and high-flying multi-state concepts.
On Wednesday, August 28, a new restaurant from a first time proprietor will enter the market with an eclectic menu, an elegant dining room, and an epic amount of wine.
Savoir, a wine-fueled, European-inspired restaurant, begins dinner service this week. Led by Brian Doke, a former director of operations for Tiny Boxwood’s who has also consulted for establishments such as Relish Restaurant & Bar and Chapman and Kirby, Savoir features a wide-ranging menu prepared by executive chef Micah Rideout (Reef, Potente, Main Kitchen). La Grande Rue, its companion wine bar and retail shop, also opens Wednesday.
“Feels good to finally be at this point rather than the construction and city part of it, to be honest,” Doke tells CultureMap “The space has come together well; the team has come together really well. Overall, super excited. Can’t wait to get the doors open.”
When those doors open, diners will find a flexible space designed to suit any number of occasions. Feeling casual? The front room contains a U-shaped bar and a few banquettes. Want a more formal experience? The 60-seat dining room features a view of the open kitchen and an adjacent garden room that seats another 30 people can be closed off for private events. Later, the restaurant will add a patio.
Regardless of where someone chooses to sit, they’ll have access to Rideout’s full menu of 30-plus dishes. Overall, the dishes Rideout showed during an early tasting have become more refined, and the range of options has expanded considerably.
Again, diners have the ability to choose their own adventures — whether that’s keeping it simple with a brie-topped cheeseburger or classic bolognese with housemade pappardelle or opting for one of Rideout’s more creative dishes like lamb belly with fajitas with housemade roti or balsamic-cured duck breast with vanilla coriander parsnips.
“I would say its eclectic, but it reads not super-intimidating . . . There’s some things on there that are pretty easy, pretty digestible,” Doke says. “There’s [also] some cheffy and technique components that work into it, but I think it’s got the balance we were looking for.”
Wine director William Meznarich — also Doke’s partner in La Grande Rue — has created a wine list with 30 by-the-glass selections and hundreds of bottled options. Whether people want a $9 glass of prosecco or a magnum of something rare, the list has something to suit any taste.
“Not everywhere has a Barolo by-the-glass and a white Burgundy by-the-glass that are actually approachable from a price standpoint,” Doke says. “You [typically] see white Burgundy on the menu at $25 or $30 [per glass], and we’ve got an awesome one for $19. That’s killer in my opinion. Quality for value, it elevates the experience, because you’re getting a great glass of wine for a very fair price.”
Diners who choose to begin or end their meal at La Grande Rue will find a totally different set of bottles and by-the-glass options — eventually reaching 500 or more selections, according to Doke. Although they share access to the kitchen that supplies the wine bar with a 13-item menu of snacks and shareables, the two spaces operate with separate liquor licenses to allow Savoir to sell spirits while La Grande Rue will sell bottles of wine to-go from its retail shop.
“[Savoir] has more of what you’d expect to see in Houston: varietals and producers people have been drinking their whole life,” Doke says. “[At La Grande Rue], we’ll have [similar] offerings, but the focus will be on trying new stuff. Hopefully, we can gain trust.”
For now, Savoir will only be open for dinner. Doke plans to add brunch by mid-September, with lunch to follow four to six weeks after that. Similarly, La Grande Rue will open at 10 am for retails sales before transitioning to bar service in the evening.
The restaurant will limit reservations and walk-ins in the beginning to help the kitchen find its sea legs. Ultimately, Doke looks forward to the day when his vision comes to life — a couple splitting a pizza and a couple of beers at one table sitting next to another group opening bottles of life-changing wine that pairs with an elaborate, multi-course meal.
Sounds like a good fit for The Heights.