Restaurants / Openings

Ambitious New Israeli Restaurant Takes Over the Coveted Triniti Space: This Temple of Meat Defies Convention — and Any Steakhouse Designation

BY // 12.15.17

Montrose’s new meat-centered restaurant, Doris Metropolitan, is shining a spotlight on steaks. Literally. A crystal chandelier casts a soft light on the cuts in a glass dry-aging meat cooler to the left of the bar in the new spot in the old Triniti restaurant space on Westheimer. It’s a fitting fixture, hanging over Japanese A5 Wagyu.

All of the meat at Doris Metropolitan is wet-aged for 21 days. Then, it’s dry-aged in the glass case for either 21 days, or up to 31. There’s no difference in tenderness between those time frames, but there’s a considerable change in flavor.

Doris owners Dori Rebi Chia, Itai Ben Eli, and Itamar Levy placed the lit glass case in prime real estate, just to the left of the massive 30-seat bar. The emphasis is undeniably on prime steaks. The list includes the traditional Wagyu they started working with in New Orleans, and Texas Akuashi beef, a red Wagyu from local farm HeartBrand.

But the owners don’t call their restaurant a steakhouse. In fact, they shy away from the label.

“As soon as you serve steak, you’re a steakhouse,” Eli tells PaperCity. “When you say steakhouse, in the U.S. especially, you already have an idea of the menu, the ambience.” There are subtle differences, of course, but “they all have the same core” in  Eli’s estimation.

At that center is dark wood, creamed spinach, and clubby Napa cabs. Doris Metropolitan imagines something different for itself.

“We don’t want to be the usual suspect,” Eli says. Doris Metropolitan has an open floor plan and open owners.  Keyser Soze it is not.

This Doris Metropolitan is the third of its kind, with its earlier sister restaurants in Costa Rica’s Santa Ana and New Orleans. Doris Butchers in Israel started it all — raising the stake when it comes to steak.

The owners sold the butchers shop in Israel to expand into a traditional restaurant, planning on a meat-centric eatery with a wide array of Middle Eastern-inspired appetizers, salads, and even desserts.

Their first choice was far from home. “If you look at our locations, you see we are not very traditional in how we grow,” Eli says. “We only open restaurants in places we like.”

Costa Rica made the cut in 2009 with its beauty and laid-back lifestyle. Next came New Orleans in 2013. The Louisiana location became incredibly popular, and very quickly.

doris restaurant
The old Triniti bar got a complete makeover. (Photo by Annie Gallay.)

After four and a half years in The Big Easy, it was time to expand. Potential options stretched across the country, from foodie-central New York to sunny, multicultural Miami. The list soon shrank to Texas cities. Many of their New Orleans regulars had Texas ties, either from family or business, particularly to Houston.

At their urging, Doris Metropolitan opened in the Lone Star State on December 1. Houston was the clear choice.

“The culinary scene is happening,” and it’s the right time to join it, Eli says. They’re adding their Middle Eastern flavors to a robust ethnic food haven. “There’s crazy-good Asian, Ethiopian, Persian food,” Eli notes.

The Houston community is vast, and it encompasses many ethnicities and cultures, he adds. “That makes Houstonians adventurous in what kind of dishes they try.”

Doris Metropolitan’s menu has plenty to stimulate adventurous palates. The establishment, touted as more “chef-driven” than steakhouse, offers up a lot of veggie-centric dishes.

Everything has its own twist, either Middle Eastern flavors or new world techniques and textures. You’ll never see it coming. Eli says, “We wanted to be minimalist — the names of the ingredients don’t do it justice.”

Take the Artichoke Salad. Straightforward, right? Not so fast. It’s a blend of three differently prepared types of artichokes on a bed of “bread-friendly tzatziki,” Eli notes. Grilled Italian artichokes meld with fresh artichoke hearts and steamed and cooked Jerusalem artichokes.

Doris’ seafood features include tuna tartare, sing oysters, and octopus like you’ve never had it before. Chef Sash Kurgan sous vides it before charring it, then serves it on a smoked tomato salad. Zhug, a traditional spicy sauce made of herbs and garlic, punctuates the dish with little dollops throughout.

The meat selections, “the crown jewel,” include your anticipated bone-in cap off ribeye, tenderloin, porterhouse, and bone-in New York Strip. But there’s another one of those surprises Eli is so fond of: the “classified cut.” Eli prefers this proprietary steak himself.

There’s a range of wines. The older ones pair well with the complexity of the dishes’ ingredients according to wine director Chris McFall. The list is heavy on Burgundy, France, in both red and whites. He strives to balance these with styles from all over the world, representing price points that fit every budget.

“We don’t want to alienate anyone. Wine should be fun and exciting,” McFall says.

For the end of the evening, pastry chef Michal Michaeli creates delicate desserts, both traditional Middle Eastern and more American. There’s ice cream galore, but treats like Malabi and the Tahini Mousse take the cake. The classic Turkish confection is malabi cream wrapped in raspberry paper, accented with pistachio and thyme ice cream, pistachio crumbles and topped off with a light candied rose petal.

The Tahini Mousse is a tasty take on dessert that hummus-lovers should embrace. Tahini sesame oil, the base of hummus, is mixed with pepper and whipped into a light, airy treat.

Diners can watch the dishes get prepared in the open kitchen space. It’s a far cry from the Triniti setup.

The Triniti Makeover

The remodel was a comprehensive project. Construction Concepts completely gutted the interior to create more flow.

“Triniti was very blocked off. It felt like two different spaces,” Construction Concepts’ Josh Weisman tells PaperCity. The new interior is big and open, with an extended bar, two chef tables, and access to the kitchen.

Construction Concepts researched the other two Doris Metropolitans’ layouts extensively before they got started. Dori Rebi Chia is “truly the designer. He’s a visionary,” Weisman says. Chia knew exactly what he wanted out of the process and the finished product — and it didn’t involve a blueprint.

“We did not design this from a piece of paper,” Weisman says. “We went off sketches and drawings we made out in the field.” Everything was hand-built, including the Doris restaurants’ signature wine walls.

The owners are excited with this newest iteration of their restaurant. “It’s not the first time. It’s the third restaurant, not counting Israel,” Eli says. Still, “it’s crazy how emotional it gets. There are so many moving parts.”

And the parts will keep on moving.

“With our menu and our ambience, we crafted from the very bottom,” Eli says. He and his partners work their way up, learning more about what they like, “and putting it in place.”

Now, their Houston adventure is underway.

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