The Museum District’s new wine bar and restaurant has made its debut. City Cellars HTX opened last month, chef-owner Daniel Wolfe tells CultureMap.
First announced in September, the restaurant has evolved a bit from Wolfe's original vision. The chef worked with local design firm Hebah Designs to transform the former Dak & Bop space into a modern wine bar. Elements include a mural of the Houston skyline and a living wall with the store’s name in neon.
“The best way I can describe it is I made it very Instagrammable,” Wolfe says. “If any of the walls or the patio end up on the internet, which they will, you’ll know exactly where that restaurant is.”
Instead of serving the upscale bistro fare he originally intended to offer, Wolfe says he developed a menu inspired by Houston’s diverse culinary offerings. The Seawall Scallops demonstrate French technique with their lemon beurre blanc, while the Rodeo Flatbread combines brisket sausage with an Alabama-style white barbecue sauce. Even a Southern staple like fried green tomatoes gets a twist with a seafood cream sauce.
“The best way I can describe that is Houston fusion. It represents a lot of different cultures,” he says.
The wine list is similarly eclectic. Currently at about 35 selections — with the ultimate goal of being closer to 80 — the list pulls from producers across America, Europe, South America, and the Middle East.
On the other hand, the beer and spirits selections are strictly local. Rather than go with national brands, Wolfe has selected breweries such as Pearland’s Mountain Wave and Houston favorite 8th Wonder as well as local distilleries such as Gulf Coast Distilling and Yellow Rose.
“Our cocktails will be on the very trendy side,” Wolfe says. “We want to get ahead of trends you’re seeing in Europe and overseas.”
As a first time restaurateur, Wolfe acknowledges that getting City Cellars up and running hasn’t been easy. Weekdays can be slow, and sales haven’t always met expectations. Still, he’s cheered by positive reviews on social media and the feedback he’s hearing from customers.
“The number one feedback I get is that our staff is very personable and people feel very welcome here,” he says. “That’s what I wanted.”