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Restaurants / Openings

New Heights Restaurant Does It All

Respected Food Duo Combines Cuisines in Audacious Dream Project

BY // 02.15.17

Houston’s traffic has the power to morph even the most sane driver into a crazed madman — this was the case on Monday evening as I slammed my fist into my steering wheel at the corner of Dunlavy and Fairview Street. “Honk, honk, honk,” my car screamed in the thick of rush hour.

As I sat bombarded by traffic in the confines of my petite sedan, chef Travis Lenig was a mere three miles away prepping for the debut of his new restaurant Field & Tides. Nestled on The Heights’ bustling East 11th Street, the eatery marks Lenig and partner Christopher “Chico” Ramirez‘s first foray into restaurant ownership — a dream nearly five years in the making.

Lenig and Ramirez’s partnership can simply be described as kismet. The duo met at popular seafood-centric restaurant Liberty Kitchen, where Lenig served as executive chef and Ramirez was the director of operations. After Ramirez left the company to embark on his own project (The Boot — Cajun Bon Temps Bar and Restaurant), the pair remained friends, vowing to one day open a place of their own.

“I’ve always wanted to do something that wasn’t set on one cuisine,” Lenig says. “So when [Chico] and I decided we were going to do something, which was five years ago, we knew that would be the direction. We took a break from each other for about three years and then two years ago, we really started talking about it and looking at spaces and really taking it seriously.”

“Then we had to choose a name, which is really important. Field & Tides is a play on Surf and Turf, so we can serve any type of cuisine that we want. It’s an open canvas.”

Asian, French, Italian, and Southern cuisines are just a few flavor profiles you’ll encounter on Field & Tide’s broad menu — a culinary compilation I finally had the pleasure of tasting after breaking free of Houston’s gridlock traffic, arriving just 45 minutes before the restaurant’s first night of service for a preview.

fields-and-tides
Pair your meal with a cocktail or two, like the Near Shore, a mix of rum, turbinado, and lime juice.

The diverse menu yields starters such as crispy pimento cheese fritters, F&T chicken wang, fried oysters and Brussels, and Lenig’s She Crab Soup. Diners can choose from entrees such as pan-seared scallops paired with creamy shrimp and crab risotto; duck confit served with corn pudding and bacon collards; bacon-wrapped pork loin with IPA mustard; and vegan and vegetarian options including an herb, tomato, and garlic frittata and the potato and peppers — guajilo chile-braised sweet potatoes and roasted peppers, served with queso fresco and butter lettuce.

The dessert menu offers five decadent confections, featuring everything from chocolate Alabama stack cake to seasonal fruit cobbler.

“I didn’t want someone to come in here and not be able to get an array of things,” Lenig says. “My wife and I, we have two children, and the question is always ‘Where do you want to go eat?’ She wants Italian food, and I don’t want that. Or I want barbecue, and she definitely doesn’t want that.

“So I wanted this to be a place that a couple can come and get a lot of different things.”

A Family Affair
Lenig gets the organic produce for his diverse menu from his father-in-law and mother-in-law Bobby and Ann Rauch‘s Huckleberry Farm in Round Top. The family affair continues with the restaurant’s design, which is the brainchild of Ramirez’s wife Wyndy Ramirez of Wynne Design Works.

Wyndy partnered with designer and craftsmen Gino Vian of Merchant & Market to outfit the 54-seat dining room with a modern farmhouse feel. Salvaged wine crates became paneling for the restaurant’s entry; custom oak tables designed by Vian are paired with white-washed chairs and navy-tufted banquettes; and a stately light fixture serves as a restaurant show piece, combining statuesque antlers with hanging bulbs.

Fashioned with rustic wood disks and a copper top, the bar is manned by beverage director Monique Hernandez (another Liberty Kitchen veteran), who packs the cocktail menu with whimsical libations such as the Angry Gunsel, where the habanero and jalapeño-infused tequila stands out as the star; the El Vaquero, which combines mezcal, egg whites, lime juice, and agave; and the Plunge Point, a mix of bubbles, pineapple vodka, and blood orange.

Rounding out Field & Tide’s offerings are Saturday and Sunday brunch (we all know how rare it is to find a Saturday brunch). Brace yourself for everything from pain perdu and biscuits & gravy to a pulled pork buttermilk stack and the F&T hash. Also on the menu: a mimosa tasting flight, comprised of a bottle of champagne alongside a flight of orange, grapefruit, blood orange, and cranberry juices.

“We also own the gas station outside, which we are going to turn into an overflow for the restaurant, and it’ll be a huge part of our brunch service,” Ramirez says. “One of the things I remember when I was younger was Sunday Funday, so we really want to bring that back to the Heights.”

Home, chic home.

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