Local chefs have put their own spins on the genre. Adding a barbecue element has made Killen’s STQ a hit since it opened a year ago, and Chris Shepherd discovered Houstonians have such a prodigious appetite for baller boards that he’s looking for a permanent home for One Fifth Steak.
Now a new contender has entered the market. Recently opened in the space that used to house Triniti, Doris Metropolitan comes to Houston via New Orleans and Costa Rica. Founded in 2009 by partners Doris Rebi Chia and Itai Ben Eli, the restaurant evolved out of a butcher shop that brought dry-aged beef to Israel.
After reviewing various options for expansion — everywhere from New York and Miami to Dallas and Austin — they realized Houston was the best fit. After considering a number of spaces inside the loop, they selected the former Triniti space for its prime location and open kitchen.
“Coming here, going out, seeing what’s going on in the culinary scene, this is such a multicultural city, I had no idea,” Ben Eli tells CultureMap. “It felt like a culinary scene we wanted to be a part of.”
From the beginning, Doris aimed to be a different kind of steakhouse. The interior is lighter, without the dark wood and leather of more classically-inspired establishments. Doris preserved Triniti’s open kitchen but replaced the Sanctuari lounge with a massive bar that snakes from the entrance into the dining room.
Meat gets pride of place, too, courtesy of a glassed-in dry aging room. Hanging primals and chops make for a stunning visual that’s already become an Instagram sensation.
“We like to present our work,” executive chef Sash Kurgan tells CultureMap. “Everyone can see the meat. Everyone can see the wine. The kitchen will be open — a big bar with all of our bottles. People will know exactly what we’re about.”
Doris Metropolitan also breaks with convention when it comes to food. While beef certainly has pride of place — the restaurant offers USDA Prime beef from the Midwest, Texas akaushi beef from HeartBrand Ranch, and wagyu beef from Australia and Japan that's wet-aged for 21 days before being dry-aged for an additional 21 or 31 days — the appetizers and sides are very different from most other steakhouses. Instead of shrimp cocktail, creamed spinach, and baked potatoes, Doris draws upon the owners Israeli heritage for a Mediterranean-inspired, vegetable-driven array of options.
“With a lot of the new diners, people hear about us as a steakhouse, but at the same time — if you look at the appetizers, sides, vegetable driven, heritage back to Israel flavors — people get really surprised by the design, the feel, the ambiance, the complexity of the appetizers, and of course the steak. The feedback has been great so far,” Ben Eli says. “I feel like in general we’re more of a chef-driven restaurant than a steakhouse.”
For example, the beetroot appetizer features a whole beet that’s hollowed in the middle and stuffed with a blend of six cheeses. After being blasted in the oven, it’s sliced tableside to ensure the cheese oozes onto the plate. Other highlights include raw oysters topped with tuna tartare, sweetbreads served with yogurt spheres, and an artichoke flower salad. Sides like polenta, Israeli salad (heirloom tomatoes with herbs), and root vegetable puree continue the theme.
Cooking techniques are more varied, too. Rather than blast the steaks under a broiler, Kurgan prepares them sous vide and finishes them on an open grill. The chef explains that the method both allows for more even cooking and provide the opportunity for thicker cuts to marinade in their fat, which enhances their flavor.
For those seeking the most beefy flavor, Kurgan recommends trying the "classified cut," which is Doris' name for the ribeye cap or spinalis dorsi. Currently, they're sourcing the spinalis from their purveyors, but Kurgan says he'll butcher them himself if he has to in order to ensure a consistent supply.
Prices are reasonable, too. An 18-ounce ribeye that's been dry aged for 21 days only costs $44. Even a 32-ounce porterhouse will only set diners back $82.
If the number of people flocking to Doris Metropolitan is any indication, Houstonians are ready to embrace this new restaurant that breaks with tradition.
Doris Metropolitan; 2815 Shepherd Drive; Open daily from 5 pm to 11 pm.