What's Eric Eating Episode 88
Poitín's chef dishes on big changes, plus River Oaks' buzzy new steakhouse
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Dominick Lee joins CultureMap food editor to discuss Poitín Bar & Kitchen. As the restaurant in Sawyer Yards approaches its one-year anniversary, Lee and the restaurant's owner Ian Tucker have made a number of changes in response to customer requests.
From installing partitions to separate the bar from the dining room to utilizing the space for events (he's looking forward to St. Patrick's Day), Poitín has become a different restaurant than it originally intended to be. No bigger change has come than on the menu, where Lee has moved in a more explicitly Southern direction. Sandler asks him why he made that choice.
"The best that I always use to explain the change is, we have pork belly that is seasoned with five spice and adobo, which is this Filipino sauce. That dish sold heavily. It's a Southern-inspired dish with these international feels and injections into it," Lee says. "When I realized that was working a lot better and people gravitated towards dishes like this, I decided that I wanted to make Southern food.
"I believe when chefs focus in on the palate that they come from that they make the best food. It's what you've grown up on. It's the food you resonate with the best. If we do this and give ourselves this identity, then people know who we are instead of people always saying 'Poitín, they make world food.' That was just a constant thing that was driving us nuts."
The chef discusses other changes at the restaurant, including the new Sunday roast menu inspired by The Exchequer, Tucker's successful bar and restaurant in Dublin. Lee even hints at what sort of restaurant he'd like to open next.
Prior to Lee's interview, Urban Swank blogger Felice Sloan joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu's plans for Squable, the restaurant they're opening in the former Southern Goods space; popular taco truck La Macro's new home near the Heights; Perry's Steakhouse hiring star chef Rick Moonen; and a deal between craft brewers and beer distributors that could pave the way for to-go sales from breweries. In the restaurants of the week segment, they rave about a recent meal at 2840 at Dukessa, where former Kitchen 713 chef Ross Coleman is catering to an upscale lunch crowd. They also discuss Perry's newly opened location in River Oaks and share some of their favorite dishes from the Rodeo Uncorked! Best Bites competition.
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