Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu fancy up new Galveston boutique hotel with 'fine-ish dining' fare
Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu have revealed the details about their plans for the restaurant at Galveston's Hotel Lucine, the boutique hotel opening on the site of the historic Treasure Isle Motel property at the intersection of 10th Street and Seawall Boulevard. Called The Fancy, it will be the first hotel project for the duo, whose Thorough Fare hospitality group also operates two establishments in The Heights: patio bar Better Luck Tomorrow and European-inspired restaurant Squable.
The duo also have substantial achievements on their own. Heugel is the well-known founder of game-changing Montrose cocktail Anvil Bar along with establishments such as The Pastry War, Tongue-Cut Sparrow, and newly opened Refuge. Yu is the James Beard Award-winning chef behind the acclaimed tasting menu Oxheart and its successor Theodore Rex.
Tasked by Hotel Lucine partner and Galveston native Keath Jacoby with creating a restaurant that's equally appealing to island residents and visitors, The Fancy will offer what the duo defines as "American Fine-ish Dining." In a release, the partners define "American Fine-ish Dining" as being grounded in fundamental French technique and locally-sourced ingredients. The "ish" is essential when dining near the beach; despite the name, they recognize that The Fancy shouldn't be too fancy.
“The Fancy is definitely not a seafood restaurant, but it would be ridiculous to not use the amazing Gulf of Mexico products that are literally staring us straight in the face,” Yu said in a statement. “The food at The Fancy will feel driven by the best local produce and Texas meats available, almost always seasoned with the salt from the Gulf air.”
Open for lunch and dinner during the week and brunch and dinner on weekends, Yu's menu will include seafood dishes such as shrimp cocktail "with too many sauces," chilled half lobster, and whole roasted Gulf flounder with a braised oxtail and mustard green sauce. Carnivores can look to meatballs that use a blend of pork and Texas beef and shareables such as pork belly pot roast with roasted oysters. Yu, a noted fan of the Houston's/Hillstone restaurant, has also put his spin on the classic French dip sandwich.
“I hope it’s food that is as craveable as it is creative, grounded in my European kitchen upbringing, but with a lot of character," Yu added. "There’s going to be much to celebrate at the hotel, and I think the menu is really going to help people let loose."
Also helping them let loose will be Heugel's cocktail menu. As both Heugel and Yu plan to be on-site daily for much of the hotel's first year of operations — they're planning to live together on the island, per a release — The Fancy's cocktail menu will be grounded in drinks they both enjoy, including Tongue-Cut's signature Bobby's Martini, along with an extensive wine list with plenty of by-the-glass choices.
“Frankly, Justin and I spend too much time drinking and eating together. We both feel that cocktails are a great start to the dining experience, but they must be deferential to a great wine list,” Heugel said. “We want our guests to count on a wine list of close to 100 selections that we both feel compliment The Fancy’s food well. We think there’s a real opportunity in Galveston for a wine list that highlights smaller producers — both classical and natural in their approaches — in addition to selfishly stocking some of our personal favorites.”
The Fancy is only one component of Hotel Lucine's food and beverage offerings. Heugel and Yu will also operate The Den, a lobby bar that will serve three meals daily, a rooftop bar, and a pool. Taken together, it's Thorough Fare's most ambitious project to date and one that has the potential to become an important addition to Galveston's culinary scene.
“We’ve known for a while that our next project would need to reassert our intention to challenge our professional accomplishments to this point," Heugel said. "We weren’t sure entirely how those challenges would emerge, but we passed on multiple opportunities until we met with Dave, Keath and Robert about Hotel Lucine. Everyone on this project has a lot on the line, and we are going to make sure our contributions are just as special as what our partners are bringing to the table.”
The 61-room property will be centered around its pool and The Den. Austin-based design firm Kartwheel Studio’s plans call for preserving the building’s mid century feel with details such as white brick, bleached white oak, and native greenery.