Between rows of incomplete buildings, marked-off construction zones, and newly insulated apartments sits a pair of restaurants so well-hidden that they’re easy to overlook. But this is all part of the charm of the newest concepts in Generation Park in the Lake Houston area, Wholesome Kitchen and sibling eatery Wholesome Pies: embracing the spaciousness of the suburbs.
Suburban charm seems to be exactly what Michael Collins and Theyen Hoang were looking to achieve. At his Inner Loop restaurants The Fish Restaurant & Sushi Bar and Bovine & Barley, co-owner Collins recalls suburban customers urging him to open a spot near them. When he and Wholesome executive chef Hoang first received the property offer from their broker, they saw an opportunity to make that happen.
“You could put this in downtown Houston, [or] you could put it in downtown New York,” Collins said.
The only suburban feature of Wholesome Kitchen is its size: The restaurant seats 180 people comfortably. Otherwise, the restaurant’s industrial ceilings, white marble tables, and urban-style wooden panels screams “urban.” Wholesome Kitchen also features a wine wall, which Hoang tells me was her idea.
“I’ve been dreaming about that wine wall for a long time,” Hoang said.
A Vietnamese chef with training in French-inspired food, she has put her personal touch on everything from the menu to the décor and design. Working directly with the architect, Hoang chose floor-to-ceiling windows and white walls to give Wholesome Kitchen an inviting yet upscale atmosphere.
On Hoang’s menu, along with classics like lemon herb roast chicken, she fused her French-inspired training with her Asian heritage to create dishes like Chilean sea bass with Thai curry risotto and Asian sticky ribs with ginger.
“My mom [uses] a lot of Thai chilis and ginger, so I wanted to put a little touch of that in there,” she said.
Also after noticing the absence of Neapolitan pizza in the area, Hoang crafted a menu including pizzas such as the sweet-and-spicy “Honeybee” and sausage-topped “Paid in Full.”
Chances are both Wholesome Pies and Wholesome Kitchen will stay busy with Lake Houston-area families and diners happy to have a hang for locally sourced and chef-driven cuisine.