Houston’s Gulf Coast Dream Restaurant is a Very Personal Project for This Top Chef and His Staff

Your First Taste Look at One/Fifth Gulf Coast

BY // 11.27.19

It’s all part of his grand design. When he signed a five-year lease in the former Mark’s Restaurant space, ambitious chef Chris Shepherd opened with One/Fifth Steak, then moved onto fare influenced by France, Italy and Spain (One/Fifth Romance Languages), then took a holiday to the Mediterranean last year (One/Fifth Mediterranean) before closing the restaurant for two weeks in August to focus on Gulf Coast cooking, One/Fifth Gulf Coast.

This latest Gulf Coast restaurant iteration will be open through July 31, 2020.

Many on Shepherd’s staff are native to the region. Together, they went back to their roots and jumped into a rental van for a little R&D road trip before the opening. The team caravanned through back roads, stopping along the way at meat markets and shrimp shacks, devouring boudin and plate lunches while they searched for the best pistolette (fried/stuffed bread) they could find.

They even made a special trip to Gonzales, Louisiana — reputed to be the jambalaya capital of the Gulf.

One/Fifth’s new menu reflects their romp through the region with cheeky offerings such as Gas Station Snacks, which change daily and might include chicken on the stick with pickles ($12) — apparently a big thing at Mississippi pit stops — and popcorn shrimp made with rock shrimp, with a dipping sauce of fresh creamed corn whipped to an unctuous purée ($16). Naturally there are raw oysters from the Gulf (six for $18, 12 for $32) and others roasted in the hearth ($18), as well as all variety of shellfish served cold, fried, cured and smoked.

A fan of Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami, Shepherd sourced out stone-crab claws pulled from the waters of Texas and serves them on ice ($30/$55). The muffaletta makes an appearance — not as an overstuffed sandwic­h but as a salad ($14), as do homey, warm hushpuppies slathered in melting honey butter with optional thinly sliced house ham. The slow-roasted, lacquered duck is prepared much like its Peking cousin — air-dried before a long, slow roast, its crisp skin lacquered with cane syrup— and served with long-grain rice from Beaumont, from what we’re told is the oldest rice farm in the state ($45).

Chef de cuisine Matt Staph is particularly proud of the wood-roasted flounder amandine ($55). A scarce fish with size and quantity limitations set by the state, it’s also a challenge to catch. Staph set out with his supplier after dark to spear the elusive fish and has made it a permanent fixture on the dinner carte.

Desserts, home-spun by pastry director Victoria Dearmond, include a moist sour cream coconut cake ($12) and a tart Key lime inspired-pie accented with preserved black lime for a bit of depth and topped with brûléed Italian meringue ($10). One/Fifth Gulf Coast is open for dinner and Sunday brunch.

One/Fifth Gulf Coast, 1658 Westheimer Road, Houston, 713.955.1024.

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