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Restaurants / Openings

Seafood Sister Restaurants Bring a Fresh Scene to River Oaks District — and Fish Flown in From Holland

Everything You Need to Know About Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar

BY // 06.12.19

River Oaks District may be known as Houston’s posh place, but its restaurant power is quickly taking centerstage.

The latest foodie draw? Mediterranean soon-to-be mainstays Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar are opening their doors on June 17th. The sister concepts, both from Atlas Restaurant Group, will share the 11,000-square-foot former Equinox space.

You could call them two sides of the same drachma. Ouzo Bay, the swanky destination for wild-caught fish flown in daily, and Loch Bar, the approachable speakeasy meets New England oyster bar.

“I think what we’re bringing to Houston will be unique. You won’t find anything like what we’re doing in Houston,” Eric Smith, who runs Atlas Restaurant Group with his brother Alex, tells PaperCity.

There are many fish in the sea, and Ouzo Bay strives to serve as many of them as possible. Imagine a unique fresh whole fish selection like you won’t find anywhere else in the state of Texas. Consider Kona Kampachi flown in daily from Hawaii or Dover Sole — their top seller — fresh from Holland.

It’s all about the exclusivity of the menu, hidden gems you don’t have to hunt the world for, now that you can find them right here in Houston.

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The Smith brothers are  building off Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar success in Baltimore, where they opened the original concepts five years ago in Harbor East, and their later triumphs in South Florida.

loch bar raw bar
Expect live music several nights a week.

The sophisticated Ouzo Bay reflects a contemporary twist on the classic kouzina, or “kitchen.” Of course, the refined restaurant will hardly look like a kitchen.

It will be spacious and airy, with marble accents, hard wood and porcelain light fixtures. And best of all, retractable windows to let the breeze drift in as though you’re along the Mediterranean.

Ouzo Bay is a kitchen in the sense of everything lovingly made from scratch, from spanakopita to lamb meatballs and all dips and spreads. Meanwhile, cheeses and olive oils will be imported from Greece.

But the seafood is where Ouzo Bay truly stands out. “We’re flying in fish daily from around the world, and red fish locally and red snapper from the Gulf. Our wild-caught Dover sole from Holland — it’s incredible. We debone it and we filet it tableside in a meuniere sauce. It’s incredible,” Smith notes.

“I think our top sellers will be things that you can’t get anywhere else. That will be our driving force.”

The sumptuous selection will shine from a massive, mouthwatering display case.

That’s not to say there won’t be red meats. You can expect steak specials and lamb chops. “Some of our dishes are more classic,” Smith says. “Some are basically old school dishes and we cook them and make them with more of a modern twist, from plating methods to sophistication levels.”

A live DJ will add to the ambience Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, amplifying the energy of the dining experience.

And another gem: the sweeping wine library, built by beverage director Evan Turner. Formerly of Helen and Emmaline, Turner brings a wine list made up of a bevy of Greek vintages, plus some from Italy and the states.

 

The Seafood Bar Scene

For its part, Loch Bar’s foray into music features live bands seven nights a week. The restaurant will primarily use two-to-three-piece rock and roll groups, all local.

It’s part of the versatile, laid-back experience of Loch Bar, where you’ll find wholly different seafood than Ouzo Bay, like king crab and blue crab.

You can settle into a red tufted leather banquette, surrounded by gold accents and experience one of the largest raw bars in all of Space City, oyster towers, crab cakes and lobster rolls, or simply tuck in for a burger and a few beers.

“Or you can come in and get a live lobster made to order, caviar and champagne for $200,” Smith says. “It has something for everybody, which is why it’s special. It brings people from all kinds of groups together.”

Whiskey lovers are in for a particular treat. Loch Bar is set to start out with 350 varieties of the hard stuff, from France, Japan, Ireland, the U.S. and beyond, and expand to more 600 whiskies in the coming years, including select barrel offerings.

With the arrival of Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar June 17 — and then the much-anticipated opening of MAD from the BCN team two days later — River Oaks District’s restaurant scene is dominating the early summer food news.

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