Changes in River Oaks

Gourmet food shop brings classic American fare to River Oaks after bistro shutters

Gourmet food shop headed to River Oaks location after bistro shutters

News_Relish_Owner Addie D'Agostino_chef Dustin Teague
Relish owner Addie D'Agostino and executive chef Dustin Teague will build on their success of their gourmet food store. Photo by Julie Soefer
News_The Bird & The Bear_dining room
The Bird and The Bear has closed and will become Relish Restaurant and Bar. Photo by Shannon O'Hara
Look for simply prepared, American fare at Relish when it opens next year. Photo by Julie Soefer
News_Relish_Owner Addie D'Agostino_chef Dustin Teague
News_The Bird & The Bear_dining room

The turbulent River Oaks dining scene that's seen Taco Milagro become Local Foods60 Degrees Mastercrafted become The Harwood Grill and Brio become SaltAir Seafood Kitchen added another switcheroo to its roster Tuesday.

Upscale comfort food restaurant The Bird & The Bear has closed. In its place will be a new offering from gourmet food store Relish Fine Foods called Relish Restaurant and Bar.

"The first thing is the deal itself was great. I just couldn’t refuse the offer," Bird and the Bear co-owner Wafi Dinari tells CultureMap. "The second thing was the construction all over Westheimer. We have something going on that we’re looking into doing. We think it’s better to move forward without The Bird and The Bear."

Meanwhile, things are status quo at Wafi and his partner Elouise Adams Jones's other restaurant, iconic Southern restaurant Ouisie's Table, but Wafi has plans for a new concept, which he describes as "vibrant, chic Moroccan." 

Turning to Relish, owner Addie D'Agostino tells CultureMap that she's excited about moving beyond her store's prepared gourmet items into a full service restaurant. "We’ve developed a good relationship with River Oaks at Relish, and we are hoping to give them a more high end dining experience," she says.

While the construction on Westheimer has been a challenge for restaurants in the area, D'Agostino says the improvements will ultimately benefit the neighborhood. "They’re going to make it easier for the neighbors to walk and access the area," she notes. 

D'Agostino says the restaurant, which will be lead by Relish's executive chef Dustin Teague, will feature "really classic American fare. Simple food is what we like to cook and what we like to eat . . . There’s not a lot of just simply cooked cuisine (in River Oaks). That’s the direction we’re heading in."

Interior changes should take approximately six months, which puts Relish on track to open in the spring of 2016. "Basically, we’re going to redo the interior," D'Agostino says. "We’re going to put a new bar in, make that the focal point of the restaurant. It really needs an update. I don’t think it’s changed since Rickshaw. We want to give it a whole new look." 

The Chronicle first reported The Bird & The Bear's closure.