- Where metal screens will soon be shielding diners from the outside world.
- The entrance element made from wood reclaimed from a 100-year old barn in Missouri.
- A view facing the entrance from behind the sushi bar.
- The sushi bar.
- The famously arched entrance.
- Where the patio will be.
- An homage to Felix.
- Southside Espresso.
Getting permits to open a restaurant and/or bar in Houston is a bitch. Dan Allen, general manager for Uchi Houston (Beard-winning Austin chef, Tyson Cole's restaurant), is no stranger to the bureaucracy, dealing with the frustrations of permitting confusion all day long in preparation for an optimistic opening goal of mid-January.
Even in the middle of a 20-minute tour inside the restaurant construction site, Allen had to stop for a phone chat with a manager that attempted to pay for one of those many permits, only to find that the address on the paperwork led them to an office that did not, in fact, issue that particular permit.
It's headaches and runarounds like these that have pushed back the modern Japanese restaurant's opening projections from early January to mid-January, and will realistically be pushed back even further judging from the exasperated look of the architectural project manager when the January date was mentioned.
Headaches aside, the interior, when finished will consist of a myriad of textures evoking the "Japanese farmhouse" concept pitched by chef Tyson Cole himself, as interpreted by the architecture firm of Michael Hsu. In this case it means different counters topped with marble and brass, dark wood floors, a dramatic entrance element hand-built from wood reclaimed from a 100-year-old barn in Missouri, metallic screens on those beautifully arched and characteristic windows (to keep the experience as intimate as possible, while still allowing guests to see outside) and many more details that will complete the interior and patio.
A few other small, but notable details:
1) A shared back courtyard and bathrooms with a coffee shop, Southside Espresso, going in just behind Uchi from Sean Marshall of Fusion Beans. Marshall will also be doing all the coffee service for Uchi.
2) Uchi co-owner Darryl Kunik, who has strong Houston ties—his dad lives here—bought the entire complex of buildings housing Uchi. There are tentative plans for a retail space and bar upstairs next door. Kunik also bought several properties across Grant street, of which one may become yet another restaurant (no word on whether or not Cole will be involved in that if it comes to fruition).
3) There will be two private dining rooms at Uchi; one of which includes a window into the display kitchen.
4) The patio is for waiting and lingering only, which of course, probably also means drinking a glass of sake. Guests will not be able to order food and dine outside.
5) A community table will be right up front, open and inviting small parties to dine together; seating up to 12 guests.