Strap in, Houston food fans—and lovers of Underbelly in particular—because we've got a lot of ground to cover. Chris Shepherd is no stranger to change, and the James Beard Award winner is changing things up quite a bit in 2018, starting with Underbelly.
After six years, Underbelly is shutting its doors at 1100 Westheimer in March, but don't go into mourning just yet. Underbelly isn't saying goodbye, it's just evolving into something different. Come April, you'll find the new UB Preserv carrying on the legacy of Underbelly. Located down the street at 1609 Westheimer, UB Preserv won't feature the always changing menu of the original, nor will it be bound by Underbelly's self-imposed limitations on locality.
"Underbelly was founded on a very strict philosophy of what we could and could not serve. No more," Shepherd says. "Houston doesn’t limit itself, and neither do I.”
Shepherd is clearly looking forward to the new location.
"I finally get to work in a smaller restaurant," he says. "The dining room will be more intimate, but it’s also going to be high-energy and really fun.”
So what is to become of the location at 1100 Westheimer? Coming later in 2018 is Georgia James, Shepherd's first full-time steakhouse. Turns out he really liked what he was able to do with One Fifth Steak, and you'll find some of your favorites from it at Georgia James. The space is being redesigned for the new restaurant, and expect to see plenty of glass and steel.
All of this is taking place under the new Underbelly Hospitality banner, owned by Shepherd and Kevin Floyd, and the changes don't just stop there for the restaurants and bars under its umbrella.
One Fifth Romance Languages will change into something new next year, as was always the plan, but its next iteration will not be a fish restaurant after all. Instead, when it relaunches on September 1, it will be as One Fifth Mediterranean, with a menu representing the cultures of Greece, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and the Middle East.
As for Hay Merchant, you'll be able to spend even more time there in 2018. Three of the Underbelly menu items are making their way over, including the Korean braised goat and dumplings, which should be good news for those of you wanting to hit them up for lunch.