Culture / Restaurants

Kitchen Romance Inspires a New More Ambitious Houston Restaurant: First Came Love, Then Table Service

BY Laurann Claridge // 12.07.16
photography Julie Soefer

Five years ago, a young chef (all of 25) realized her dream of opening a fast-casual eatery and gourmet shop in the River Oaks area — in a prime spot on San Felipe, no less. Addie D’Agostino’s lovely little lunch spot, Relish Fine Foods, drew a well-heeled crowd midday and became a favorite late-afternoon stop to pick up something tasty for dinner.

Long hours building a business ensued. One of the loyal staffers serving by D’Agostino’s side was Dustin Teague, who not only became her husband this year, but inspired her to transform the concept into Relish Restaurant & Bar, which has taken up residence in a space twice its former size near the busy corner of Westheimer at Kirby.

The sophisticated black, gray, and white dining room with 100 seats, gleaming brass, and foxed mirrors (care of designer Julie McGarr) echoes the duo’s desire to create fare that is the antithesis of trendy, Teague says.

The new Relish restaurant’s menu of American classics is influenced by Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. By day, exec chef Teague and D’Agostino invite diners to order at the counter then choose their own table; waiter service arrives after dark, along with a full bar.

relish restaurant
The new Relish Restaurant & Bar, which features a black, gray, and white color palette, was designed by Julie McGarr.

Lunchtime brings bright salads such as the fig salad with a generous pile of thinly sliced prosciutto, toasted hazelnuts, and perfectly ripe fresh figs over a bed of bib lettuce ($15); a grilled cheese sandwich griddled with gruyère and mozzarella ($12) — a wonderfully melty mess, even better if accompanied by a cup of tomato soup ($6).

There are hot dogs from 44 Farms with house-made relish ($13) and BLTs heightened with pesto aioli ($15). And, for those who can’t imagine a week without Relish’s panini sandwiches, the powers that be will whip one up upon request, off the menu.

The newly launched dinner menu includes pastas such as pappardelle with a three-meat ragu, bucatini all’amatriciana (with pancetta, tomatoes, and fresh herbs); pan- seared catch of the day napped in a citrus beurre blanc; New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp; fried chicken with hot honey and maple Brussels sprouts; lamb chops; rib- eye; and rotisserie chicken with roasted root vegetables.

Dinner prices range from $22 to $36. Brunch on weekends is coming soon.

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