Although it’s been open for almost two months, Relish Restaurant & Bar, the River Oaks restaurant that replaced The Bird & The Bear on Westheimer, still hasn’t demonstrated to diners the full vision of what owners Addie D’Agostino and executive chef Dustin Teague intend for it become. That all changes Monday night when the restaurant begins dinner service.
At lunch, Relish has built on its reputation with a mix of salads and sandwiches. Dinner takes another step forward with a range of classic dishes like fried chicken, New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp, lamb chops, and steaks. Vegetable sides include roasted potatoes, maple bacon Brussels sprouts, and glazed carrots with pumpkins seeds.
“As you can tell, our dinner menu is quite simple. It’s hopefully done well with good ingredients,” D’Agostino tells CultureMap. “Things you want to eat more than once a week. You can come in and get a nice piece of fish one night or a steak frites the next night.”
Keeping things classic reflects Relish’s goal of becoming a neighborhood staple. The restaurant’s newlywed owners took some of their inspiration from Houston’s. While a chain restaurant may seem like a strange choice for an independently owned neighborhood spot to emulate, D’Agostino explains what she and Teague like about it.
“It’s one of those places that’s familiar. It’s consistent. You just know what you’re going to get when you go there in terms of how you’re treated by the staff and the hospitality,” she says. “We’ve always liked that kind of setting. I don’t want to say we’re doing that by any means, but the simplicity of it is what we’re trying to focus on.”
In addition to the entrees, the restaurant’s desserts taken a step forward thanks the addition of to Tony’s veteran Zach Sendukas. Relish has always been known for its cookies, and Sendukas has already made some slight tweaks to those recipes. At dinner, the pastry chef will introduce more creative dishes like a plum tart and buttermilk panna cotta.
Adding dinner also means expanding on the "and bar" portion of the restaurant's name with new beverage options. Relish will feature a selection of classic cocktails and a well-priced wine list centered around French and Italian vintages.
“It will be a good variety and good price points,” D’Agostino says. “We don’t want to break the bank. We want to be approachable.”
So far, Relish’s move has been successful. D’Agostino reports that old customers have embraced the new space, and they’re winning new fans. Adding dinner should only boost things. When brunch rolls out, diners will have the opportunity to see the full breadth of what Relish can be.