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Restaurants / Openings

New Houston Restaurant With a Weird Name Brings Foodie Power to Sawyer Yards

International Menu and All-Female Bar Leadership Promise Something Unique

BY // 05.02.18

If you consider yourself a foodie, you’re liable to soon be hearing buzz about Poitin, the new Houston restaurant with the curious name. If you think it’s a sophisticated-yet-easygoing spot headed to the Washington Avenue Arts District, you heard right.

Well, sort of. You really only heard it right if it was pronounced “PUUT-cheen.” It’s a name that pays respects to the Irish roots of the restaurant that plans to honor cuisines from the world over.

Set to officially open at 2313 Edwards in Sawyer Yards on May 14, Poitin’s got a unique name, and that’s part and parcel to the restaurant, which is unapologetically and unabashedly itself. The team went in knowing the name was a puzzler and plans to have its pronunciation printed on the menus.

“We’ll share the culture and where things come from. We’ll let them know how we source things, really teaching as well as feeding,” Poitin chef Dominick Lee tells PaperCity.

“Poitin” is distilled Irish moonshine with a checkered legal past and distinct flavor that inspired monks back in 584 AD.

“I think that when we talk about the description of Poitin the restaurant, it’s something that is unique to Houston,” says Lee, the former sous chef at Kiran’s. “With us, we like to practice something unique. That’s what we aim to provide.”

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The upcoming spot by Irish restaurateur Ian Tucker, the man behind Balls Out Burger, has a diverse menu, with a passport stamped from cities and countries across the globe.

Think slow-braised lamb neck with harissa, ras el hanout, dates, prunes and cauliflower couscous, Marble Ranch Wagyu with chimichurri, papa rellanos and dulce de leche carrots, and herb-infused ricotta ravioli with cherry tomatoes, spinach-parmesan cream and hen of the woods mushrooms. And you can enjoy it all in chic but unpretentious digs with a view of the Downtown Houston skyline.

Down the line, when brunch service begins at Poitin, you can even expect bao-laches, an innovative blend of a Chinese bao and a Czech kolache, stuffed with Korean short rib.

“Since I was probably six, every weekend my aunt and I would go to the only Korean restaurant in New Orleans. I’m big on Korean food,” Lee says. And he’s got a major dish to back it up: Poitin’s take on kalbi, Korean barbecued short ribs.

Poitin’s take mixes things up quite a bit, so it’ll go by another name on the menu. In this version, the Poitin team takes short rib, marinates it with similar flavors, then dehydrates it, then grills it. It’s cooked very slowly at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for about three hours, then served with hydroponic romaine and a Korean-style dipping sauce made with Texas wildflower honey.

Poitin Aguachile
Poitin will use fresh ingredients, that are locally sourced and sustainable whenever possible.

In lieu of the Korean-style crudité that usually comes with kalbi, Lee will serve it up with seasonal Texas vegetables. He’s committed to keeping things seasonal, planning to feature veggies year round.

They’ll appear in dishes inspired by Lee’s native New Orleans, his mother’s home country of Italy, Mexico, South America, anywhere you can think of.

“That’s a big thing about our kitchen,” the chef says. “We make sure that we have a very diverse kitchen of cultures and people from different backgrounds with different interests. We promote them to express themselves through food.”

That can be something as simple as charbroiled Gulf oysters with compound butter and shredded Romano cheese, served by the dozen out on Poitin’s patio during happy hour, or a side of fried green tomatoes with Cajun buttermilk sauce.

A New Houston Brunch Haven?

Brunch is a big one for Lee, which he calls one of the only socially acceptable meals where you can stack your plate high with a mix of sweet and savory — although in his book, the combo is always a-OK. There’ll be the “refresh” options like fresh oysters, ceviche and mussels, or grilled fruit salad with Blue stilton, a balsamic reduction and oatmeal crumble.

Then, the sweets. “What I call the fluffiest blueberry pancakes,” Lee says. He makes these pancakes by infusing the milk with blueberries rather than merely tossing a handful of the berries into the batter.

Houston heavy hitter Sarah Cuneo, who earned her stripes at Pastry War and Anvil, will act as beverage director, and Christa Havican from Kata Robata and Reserve 101, will be bar manager.

Sommelier Shannon Noelle Crow will be as careful with her selecting wines for her rotating 125-bottle program as Lee is with his ingredients. All the wines will be natural, organic and/or sustainable. The three will be joined by Kevin Doherty, who cut his teeth at Tucker’s Dublin bar, The Exchequer.

If you check out this new Houston restaurant, don’t worry if you say its name wrong.

“I had someone call it ‘Potion’ once,” Lee laughs. “I thought, ‘That’d be a good name for a bar.’ ”

For now, it’s Poitin’s bar that’s got to wow.

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