Acclaimed chef steps in to create family-friendly menu for new Heights restaurant
The upcoming restaurant once known as 60 Pioneers has taken a new direction. On Monday, Pax Americana executive chef Adam Dorris announced that he’s united with partners Charles Bishop and Taylor Lee on the restaurant, which will now be called Presidio.
Located on 11th Street in The Heights and slated to open in November, the family-friendly concept will occupy the former site of Java Java Cafe. Dorris will offer a more casual version of the food that led him to win the 2016 CultureMap Tastemakers Chef of the Year Award, while Bishop will oversee a full bar with 20 craft beer taps, wine, and cocktails.
Dorris tells CultureMap that he entered the project at the end of August when Bishop’s original partner in the restaurant, Southern Goods executive chef Lyle Bento, removed himself. Last week, Bento sued Bishop alleging financial improprieties at Southern Goods, but Dorris says he feels certain he’s made the right decision.
“I have the utmost confidence in Charles and Taylor and their business dealings. I have nothing to do with Southern Goods,” Dorris says. “I think it’s sad and kind of short sighted that something like a lawsuit would come out instead of working out the issues they have with each other. It doesn’t have anything to do with me, and this restaurant should provide something for the Heights that it’s needed.”
Dorris should have a pretty good idea about what will work in the Heights. Prior to opening Pax in 2014, he worked as the chef de cuisine at Bryan Caswell’s Italian restaurant Stella Sola and at Revival Market. Presidio gives him the opportunity to apply those lessons with his own ideas about what’s appropriate for a family-friendly concept.
The restaurant’s menu will draw on both of those experiences, with sandwiches and salads at lunch and “reinvented takes on Texas and regional classics” at dinner. The chef’s interest in preservation techniques and charcuterie will also be put to good use throughout the menu.
As for the space itself, Lee’s renovations have uncovered old shiplap that’s being used on the walls and along the bar. The 4,000-square foot patio will have a stage, and the outside will also feature two gardens. A family-friendly craft beer spot with a big patio and live music sounds a lot like Cottonwood, which Bishop helped establish before partnering with Bento on Southern Goods, but Dorris says Presidio will be pretty different from the popular Garden Oaks spot.
“It’s going to be more food-forward. With me coming on board, we all wanted to scrap whatever was planned before,” Dorris says. “The live music aspect was always going to be part of it, but we’re really focused now on feeding the neighborhood lunch and dinner everyday, and hopefully we’ll do breakfast as well.”
Even though Dorris will be focused on Presidio when it opens, Pax will still be in good hands under the direction of chef de cuisine Martha Wilcox De Leon and sous chef Daniel Blue, who recently joined the restaurant after working as Richard Knight’s sous chef at Hunky Dory.
“This gives her the opportunity to spread her wings and put her touches on things,” Dorris says. “Really, my role will stay the same as it’s been for the last six to nine months. I look forward to seeing what Martha brings to the table now that it will essentially be her restaurant.”
Combined with the news that former Liberty Kitchen chef Travis Lenig will open Field & Tides in the former home of Zelko Bistro, the fall is shaping up to be a busy one for 11th Street. That level of talent can only be good for Houston’s hottest dining neighborhood.