Restaurants / Openings

Belly of the Beast’s Restaurant Comeback Spotlights a James Beard Worthy Chef — Lunch and a New Summer Menu Beckon

A Food Couple Is Making an Impact on Spring's Dining Scene

BY // 06.16.24

James Beard Award nominated Chef Thomas Bille and his wife Elizabeth have a lot to celebrate at their still new Belly of the Beast restaurant in Spring. The second incarnation of Belly of the Beast has been open for seven months now and it’s already built plenty of buzz in The Woodlands area.

Originally open in Old Town Spring seven weeks before the start of the COVID pandemic shutdowns, Belly of the Beast’s first location proved to be unsustainable. A kitchen with no air conditioning, space limitations and COVID led to its shuttering. The Billes would take time to find the perfect new location for attempt two.

It appears they have found the perfect home.

“I want to reach a broad audience, but also give them a different perspective,” Thomas Bille says. “We can elevate the food and make it very familiar to the average Joe. I’m a working chef. I am still cooking for our guests. Every single one. And that’s important. I genuinely want to cook for people.”

While the experience at Belly of the Beast is elevated, the price tag is not.

“I feel like we offer chef driven food at a great quality,” Thomas tells PaperCity The Woodlands. “I’m using the same quality as the best restaurants. We don’t have the overhead those million dollar build-outs have. So we’re able to charge a little bit less.

“I do that because I want people to enjoy and I want to reach the masses. And I want them to come in with their families.”

Chef Thomas and Liz Billie own the new Belly of the Beast restaurant in Spring. (Photo by Foodie Cinematic)
Chef Thomas and Liz Bille own the new Belly of the Beast restaurant in Spring. (Photo by Foodie Cinematic)

Jumping Into Lunch

Belly of the Beast is now open for dinner four nights a week and lunch two days. The lunch service started on Friday, June 7 and is available 11 am to 3 pm on both Fridays and Saturdays now.

“It was extremely heartwarming to see that our first two guests for our lunch service were practically the first two guests that we had almost four years to the day of our first lunch service in our first location,” Elizabeth Bille says.

Opening for lunch comes in response to customer demand. Lunch gives Thomas a chance to do something different food wise too. The menus for lunch and dinner are about 80 percent different.

“We did that on purpose because we don’t want people to have the same experiences,” Thomas Bille says. “You want to come and lunch, you get something fast, casual, but still chef driven. Still thoughtful. And it’s still the same like amazing ingredients that we use.”

Duck Bahn Mi is on the lunch menu at Belly of the Beast. It is a braised duck leg with kewpie mayo, pickled veggies, cilantro and peanuts.
Duck Bahn Mi is on the lunch menu at Belly of the Beast. It is a braised duck leg with kewpie mayo, pickled veggies, cilantro and peanuts.

The lunch vibe is different than the evening vibe at Belly of the Beast. During lunch, the wait staff wear colorful T-shirts and upbeat music is played in the dining room. In the evening, the staff is dressed in black and the mood is more formal with different music.

Summer also brings new menu items — included grilled peach and burrata — that take advantage of seasonal, local produce.

“We have beautiful local produce,” Thomas Bille notes. “We use Farm to Table, which is a Texas purveyor. They do all the farms within a two to three hour radius.”

The summertime dinner entree of seared scallops is another example of Chef Thomas Bille embracing seasonal items. The scallops are served with succotash.

Many of the entrees at Belly of the Beast will get a seasonal update, with new proteins like scallops or duck swapped in.

Belly of the Beast’s Chef Power

Thomas Bille was named a James Beard Award semifinalist last January in the Best Chef in Texas category.

“Just to have that blessing three months into our business was like ‘Whoa,’ ” Thomas Bille says. “But you know, you have a body of work. It didn’t just start here. It started 17 years ago.”

Belly of the Beast is now getting ready to host its first ever wine dinner on June 27.  It’s the first of what could become monthly events. A special tasting menu, prepared to pair with wines that they have regularly available, will be the first special event dinner. The restaurant also offers beer selections from their former Old Town Spring neighbor Excalibur Brewing.

Belly of the Beast can be found at 5200 FM 2920 in Spring. The restaurant is open for dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5 pm to 9 pm, and lunch Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 3 pm. Reservations are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome.

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