On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," James Beard Award-winning chef and pitmaster Aaron Franklin joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Loro. A collaboration between Franklin and and fellow Beard winner Uchi chef-founder Tyson Cole, the Austin-based Asian smokehouse recently opened its first Houston location in The Heights.
Franklin begins the conversation by describing the six-year process of creating Loro. Initially, it started with testing ideas in the Uchiko kitchen; now the restaurant has three locations statewide with a second Dallas outpost slated to debut this fall.
Turning to Houston, Franklin says he got Chris Shepherd's blessing to bring Loro to the Bayou City. He and Sandler discuss the restaurant's unique location in the former 11 St. Church of God. The chef says he's been aware of the property for years and is very impressed with the finished product.
Out of all the Loros that we'll ever do, however many that may be, I think the one in The Heights will be the coolest build. That building is so cool. I love the energy of it.
Design-wise, it's the first time we've ever done this. You've got the original chapel that's the waiting area slash bar. Then you've got the larger chapel that's the dining area. I love the split of energy between the two. You've got this bustling situation, you're waiting for a table, having some drinks. Then you go into the main area for dining. It's peaceful. You don't feel rushed. You feel comfortable. The acoustics, I might add, are amazing. Such a cool building.
Listen to the whole interview to hear some of Franklin's favorite dishes on the menu, whether Loro might add another Houston location, and a few comments about Uptown Sports Club, the New Orleans-inspired sandwich shop he's opening in Austin later this year. They also touch on the current state of Franklin Barbecue.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Mary Clarkson discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the Burger Bodega pop-up finding a permanent home on Washington Ave.; the opening of Lees Den, Benjy Levit's new wine bar above Local Foods Market; and chef Daniel Wolfe's Corks for Cancer fundraiser at City Cellars HTX.
In the restaurants of the week segment, they share first impressions of Bluestone Lane, the Australian-inspired, New York City-based cafe that recently opened in The Heights. They also discuss a recent meal at BCN; they find the Spanish fine dining restaurant remains one of Houston's most satisfying restaurants.