Culture / Restaurants / Openings

A New Refined Neighborhood Restaurant Opens: Houston’s Sibling Entrepreneurs Take a Bold Step Up by River Oaks Land

BY // 10.03.16

Nestled between retail juggernauts River Oaks District and Highland Village, Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors awaits its debut at the new Westheimer Oaks development. The neighborhood eatery, which officially opens for dinner service at 5 pm today (Oct. 3), has been a labor of love for sibling owners Nick Adair and Katie Adair Barnhart — the duo behind San Felipe favorite Adair Kitchen.

“With this restaurant, Katie and I wanted to ultimately create a place that we’d like to eat at. [Eloise Nichols] is a little nicer than Adair Kitchen. It’s definitely kind of a step up for us,” Nick says.

Inspired by their grandmother Eloise Nichols (hence the name), the restaurant embodies her spirit in more ways than one. Postcards embossed with a vintage photo of Eloise are perched atop each table. The back of the cards are inscribed with some of the matriarch’s favorite phrases — I wish you were here; I’m kind of glad you’re not. Foliage-themed wallpaper channels the 1940s, and a developing photo wall will soon house a collage highlighting Eloise alongside snaps of Katie and Nick’s family and friends.

Houston-based architect Issac Preminger helped the duo fulfill their vision, which includes a whimsical raw bar, custom-made seating and lighting, and an expansive bar pouring classic and contemporary cocktails (bar manager Grant Walker is responsible for the drinks menu).

“We definitely wanted the bar to be a focal point. We want people to know that, yes, we are a restaurant, but we are here to serve the neighborhood. We want this to be a place that you can sit down and have a meal three or four times a week, but also, you can come in and just have a drink at the bar. [Eloise Nichols] can be your regular Tuesday night hangout or your go-to for date night,” Adair says.

Eloise Nichols co-owners Nick Adair and Katie Adair Barnhart with chef Joseph Staysich
Eloise Nichols co-owners Nick Adair and Katie Adair Barnhart with chef Joseph Staysich

Of course, no restaurant is complete without its signature menu. Chef Joseph Staysich sources ingredients from local purveyors (Black Hills Ranch, 44 Farms, Dairymaids, Amy’s Ice Cream, and more) to craft dishes including harissa-marinated redfish on the half shell paired with Brussels slaw; field pea hummus served with crispy pita; coffee-roasted beets topped with Texas pecans, blue cheese, and cocoa nibs; the house favorite chicken and dumplings; pastrami pork ribs; and a classic Texas beef burger. (View the full dinner menu here.)

The restaurant’s raw bar features tuna tartare, gulf snapper sashimi, pickled Texas shrimp, crab and butternut squash somtam, and oysters on the half shell.

Eloise Nichols unveils lunch service next Monday, then brunch the following weekend. Also stay tuned for Katie and Nick’s juice bar concept, Bebidas, which will open in November.

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