Houston's Best New Restaurant

The race for Houston's best new restaurant of 2016 is already on: New Westheimer project making waves

Race for Houston's best new restaurant is already on with new project

Paul Petronella Grant Gordon David Keck Edmont
From left: David Keck, Grant Gordon and Paul Petronella will open The Edmont in 12 to 18 months. Courtesy photo

As summer turns to fall, it's only natural for a certain segment of obsessed foodies to contemplate the biggest openings of the fall. From Prohibition to Main Kitchen & 806 Lounge, from BCN Taste and Tradition to Museum Park Cafe, foodies are tracking dates and monitoring Facebook pages for hints about the latest arrivals.

Of course, restaurant owners have to look farther ahead: To the beginning of 2015 and beyond. Which is why Paul Petronella, the owner of Paulie's restaurant in Montrose, David Keck, the sommelier at Montrose wine bar Camerata (located next to Paulie's and owned by Petronella) and former Tony's executive chef Grant Gordon revealed this week that they're joining forces to open a restaurant called The Edmont on a currently vacant piece of land at 1634 Westheimer (next to Buffalo Exchange).

 Gordon helped revitalize Tony's with modern techniques and fresh ideas, bringing the fine dining institution into a new era.   

Not surprisingly for a restaurant that the proprietors estimate is 12 to 18 months away, details are light on the direction of the food or wine. "Utilizing Grant’s background in French and Italian techniques, we will cook things that make us happy in hopes that will in turn make our guests happy," a statement promises. Gordon plans to travel and stage between now and then, much as Adam Dorris did prior to the opening of Pax Americana.

Even though it's still pretty far away, plenty of people are excited about The Edmont's potential. Together, the three men behind it are known for their commitment to high standards and hard work. 

Gordon helped revitalize Tony's with modern techniques and fresh ideas, bringing the fine dining institution into a new era and putting it on a solid footing that's only continued since his departure with the collaboration of current chef de cuisine Kate McLean with owner Tony Vallone.  Gordon also brings a two-star Michelin pedigree earned at the dearly departed Cyrus in California (where he worked with fellow Houstonians Matt Marcus of the Eatsie Boys and Roy Shvartzapel of Common Bond).

Petronella transformed the neighborhood restaurant his parents started into a fast-casual powerhouse with housemade pastas and a well chosen wine list that's become a popular gathering place for restaurant industry employees. In addition to improving the food, Petronella turned over his entire front of house staff until he found a crew that's as welcoming and knowledgeable as at any high quality, full service restaurant.   

When Camerata opened in 2013, Keck stepped out from Uchi's shadow to emerge as one of Houston's most thoughtful advocates for small wineries. His rigorous training of Camerata's staff has made it a place where people can become better educated about new varietals and producers.

English majors may recognize the new restaurant's name as a reference to J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield finds refuge at The Edmont Hotel during his travels through Manhattan. The restaurant trio promise only "subtle and thoughtful" references to the book, which seems wise. "The food, wine, service and design will always be the focus of this restaurant," they state.

Keep an eye out for the pop-ups as they occur, and look for signs of construction on Westheimer once the City of Houston provides the necessary approvals. The quest to become Houston's best new restaurant of 2016 has begun.