Savoir, the wine-fueled new restaurant coming to the Heights next month, is starting to take shape. As construction continues to transform the ’30s-era warehouse in a restaurant, managing partner Brian Doke has begun to assemble the team that will bring Savoir to life.
Executive chef Micah Rideout has worked at a number of Houston restaurants, including Tarakaan, Reef, Potente, Main Kitchen, and Ambrosia. Most recently, he’d been working at Jaxton’s Bistro in Cypress. Raised in Thailand, Rideout brings a deep knowledge of different Asian cuisines as well as experience with European flavors.
General manager Evin Haines worked with Doke at both Tiny Boxwood’s and Relish Restaurant & Bar, while events director Abby Mejia brings experience from Hughes Manor and Two Be Wed. William Meznarich, Doke’s partner in the adjacent La Grande Rue wine shop, will be wine director.
The space’s design has come together since CultureMap broke the news about Doke’s plans back in August. Brick columns now separate the bar area from the dining room. Roll-up doors have been installed on the Yale Street side that will bring in fresh air on nice days. Still to come, a brass bar that will be allowed to patina over time.
“It’ll be pretty as far as our goals, but we’re not doing marble floors,” Doke says. “It’s a more character-driven [design, connected to the historic] aspect of the building. We want it to look really sharp.”
Rideout and Doke have been working on the menu. Their goal is to offer diners options that will serve them equally well for casual weeknight dinners and special occasions.
“The food will have playful stuff, some higher-end, some more approachable,” Doke says. “Evan and I talk all the time. We could have a bowl of pasta and a glass of red wine five days a week. But then you come in one day for an anniversary, maybe it’s a nicer dinner where you do duck or lamb or something for two.”
At an off-site tasting last week, Rideout previewed a couple of ideas he’s working on: chicken on quack (chicken liver mousse with duck skin chicharrones), herb chicken bundles (sauteed chicken wrapped in mustard greens), and lamb keema “fajitas” with roti bread. The last item will be part of the menu’s dough section, which will include both traditional pizzas and pastas as well as more global flavors. Rideout is also working on a burger featuring a in-house ground patty, a duck dish, and a ribeye for two.
“The restaurant is going to be some damn gorgeous,” Rideout says. “The hope is people sit down, look at the menu, and go ‘oh, we can come here a couple times a couple times a week and then come on the weekends and we’re ready to spend money now.’ That’s where the broad span comes into play, which is a really big challenge. Usually with restaurants, they’re going fine dining or casual. With this one, we just have to get a really good balance between all of it.”
Of course, the wine list will be full of gems at all price points. Say, a $50 bottle of red that a couple of people can split with a pizza or a triple digit sparkler for celebrating an anniversary. Once established, Doke plans to solicit customers interested in custom wine dinners that dive deep into the cellar with special courses created by Rideout.
With work progressing steadily, Doke hopes to have furniture and equipment in the space soon. With training and final touches still to come, Savoir should open in early December. Until then, the team will be finalizing recipes and practicing execution.
“We’re going to be cooking our asses off the next few weeks while we get ready for the space,” Doke says.