Local Foods Owner to Open New French Bistro in Rice Village

Benjy Levit’s Eau Tour features a wood-burning oven, a relaxing retro-inspired atmosphere, and chef-driven, sharable feasts.

By Daniel Renfrow March 17, 2023

Eau Tour will feature many seafood-forward dishes like this scallop crudo with blood oranges and pistachio dukkah.

Image: Jenn Duncan

Restaurateur Benjy Levit’s Rice Village footprint is about to get a bit bigger. The man behind Rice Village staples Local Foods, Local Foods Market, and Lees Den is opening a community bistro in the former digs of Thai Spice (5117 Kelvin Drive) on Tuesday, March 21. The restaurant, named Eau Tour (“water journey” in French), will offer guests a relaxing atmosphere in which to enjoy chef-driven, shareable feasts. 

Much of the menu at Eau Tour, described as “stylistically contemporary French cuisine with a lighter fare,” centers around the restaurant’s wood-burning Jasper oven, which will be utilized in the preparation of many of the restaurant’s seafood-forward dishes. Helming Eau Tour’s kitchen is executive chef Kent Domas, who was previously with The Classic, Alice Blue, and Bernadine’s. Food highlights on Domas’s menu (created with input from Lees Den executive chef Maria Gonzales) include scallop crudo with blood oranges and pistachio dukkah; tuna tartare with romesco, almonds, and bottarga; and seared sea trout with smoked onion soubise and grilled frisee.

For land lovers, there’s also what looks to be a rather promising double cheeseburger crafted from a combination of ground short rib and duck as well as a pork Milanese featuring tonnato, dill, charred cabbage, and chili oil. Dessert options include a Gateau Basque with infused Texas strawberries and orange blossom cream and a pecan upside down cake with ube and rum.  

The restaurant's cozy, retro-inspired interiors give off strong Art Deco vibes.

Image: Jenn Duncan

Like any good bistro, Eau Tour will capitalize on its coziness. The restaurant features only 2,000 square feet of space with bar seating for 11 guests and booth and banquette seating for 60. The intimate spot, which has strong Art Deco vibes and a host of vintage light fixtures, was designed by Garnish Design, who chose a unique color palette of chartreuse, dusky rose, and gray-blue for the playful space. They also decided to painstakingly preserve the building's original terrazzo floors and D’hanis brick walls. The end result is a warm space that feels relaxed, approachable, and familiar. 

“Our goal is to open an intimate space with a refined but not too serious dinner party atmosphere with food meant to be passed around accompanied with fun tunes”, owner Benjy Levit said in a statement. “Eau Tour is a spot for the community to hang and enjoy happy habits.” 

The Mean Left Hook cocktail is crafted from from rhum agricole, green chartreuse, coconut, pineapple, and lime.

Image: Jenn Duncan

Since hangout sessions tend to go more smoothly when there is some booze involved, Eau Tour has created a cocktail program that will make you want to sit and stay a while. Highlights of the menu—which celebrates the classics while also presenting fresh takes on them—include the Mean Left Hook crafted from rhum agricole, green chartreuse, coconut, pineapple, and lime (all served in a fish-shaped cocktail glass); and the Aneth Avec, a dill-forward cocktail that sports aquavit and Lillet Blanc. 

For their wine program, Eau Tour brought in Ryan Cooper of everywine, who was formerly a sommelier at Goodnight Hospitality and Uchi, to design a small but comprehensive wine selection highlighting both traditional and avant-garde producers from France as well as wine made in America with French sensibilities. The bottle list at Eau Tour has been priced well below industry standard in order to recreate the value often found at Parisian neighborhood bistros. 

Eau Tour will be open for dinner service Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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