Galveston's eagerly anticipated boutique hotel taps rising star chef to lead 'fine-ish' dining restaurant
Hotel Lucine finds its chef
The Hotel Lucine, Galveston’s eagerly anticipated, boutique hotel, has made a key hire ahead of its opening this spring. Thorough Fare hospitality group parters Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu, who will oversee the hotel’s food and beverage operations, have named Leila Ortiz as executive chef.
A veteran of celebrity chef David Chang’s celebrated New York restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar and the former sous chef and operations manager for the late, lamented Houston restaurant UB Preserv, Ortiz will oversee the kitchens for both the hotel’s lobby bar and The Fancy, the property’s “fine-ish dining” main restaurant.
Overall, the chef will look to bring both her professional experiences with different Asian flavors and her Latin heritage to the role.
“Having the opportunity to join the Hotel Lucine team and help develop a new space for dining and socializing in Galveston is both daunting and exciting,” Ortiz said in a statement. “The hotel is going to make so many great memories, and I can’t wait to be a part of that.”
Hotel visitors will have different venues for sampling Ortiz’s cooking. The hotel’s two bars — The Den, which will be located in the lobby, and another on the roof — will offer both breakfast and an all-day menu. Potential dishes include chilled heirloom tomatoes served “campechana-style” and a pressed chicken sandwich with Puerto Rican-inspired mojo verde.
At The Fancy, expect a French-influenced take on classic American fare. Dishes include roast chicken with mushroom duxelle and black pepper dumplings and Gulf fish wrapped in potato and served “animal style” with smoked paprika soubise sauce. As one would expect from a chef of Yu’s experience — he won a James Beard Award for his work at Oxheart — the restaurant will source quality ingredients from purveyors such as Alvin, Texas’s Jolly Farm and Galveston’s Katie’s Seafood.
“I have been incredibly lucky to have Leila working with me to develop the opening menus for the hotel,” Yu said. “She has a way about her that is incredibly easy-going, but her flavors are fierce and pop with a lot of pizazz. I can’t wait to show Galveston what we’ve been working on.”
Located on the site of the historic Treasure Isle Motel at 10th and Seawall, the 61-room property will feature an interior courtyard pool, a rooftop with 180-degree views, and a private beach. Austin-based design firm Kartwheel Studio’s plans call for preserving the building’s midcentury feel with details such as white brick, bleached white oak, and native greenery.