When 51Fifteen opens its doors inside Saks Fifth Avenue on April 28, Houstonians will experience a unique brand of luxury where fashion and food collide. Moving from its former space and namesake at 5115 Westheimer, the revamped restaurant will now reside at 5175 Westheimer, with executive chef Stefon Rishel in charge of the kitchen and general manager Chad Wherry on the floor (both left positions with Lasco Enterprises' Max's Wine Dive in DFW to accept their new roles).
A menu focused on flavors familiar to the Houston area will feature connections developed between farmers and producers in order to showcase dishes that marry seasonality with upper-echelon quality; bright flavors and colors in a minimalist form with contemporary American undertones changing every six weeks on average.
"Houston is such a melting pot of people that the food should resonate with everyone," says Rishel. "Whether you have four people or 44, everyone should find something to eat here." The menu is still being finalized, but keep an eye out for the soon-to-be signature Gulf Coast bouillabaisse full of redfish, pink shrimp, and Gulf stone crab in a spicy tomato bisque and expertly-prepped steaks. A second line in the kitchen will ensure uninterrupted service regardless of order demand and a walk-in refrigerator with internal prep-area will allow breakdown of whole animals for optimum usability of products; look for an evolving charcuterie program as the months progress.
Rishel's "sustainable, clean, [and] very sexy" offerings will bring a "local worldly" vibe while keeping things close to home: virtually every element is prepared in-house right down to the mustard and butter (made with local cream, no less).
Discerning taste doesn't end with the food: the 9800-square-foot restaurant will encompass an indulgent palette of white, gray, black, and brass-bedecked environs from designer Nina Magon of Contour Interior Design and Harrell Architects, who collaborated on the light-filled space brimming with one-of-a-kind features spanning classic and mid-century modern influences brought to life by Construction Concepts.
Take the handcrafted installation of stained walnut, brass, marble, and black stone octagons climbing up the wall and along the ceiling of the 208-seat main dining room made up of two and four-tops plus a row of plus half-circle boots. Each piece reportedly weighs 60 pounds and evokes a honeycomb vibe — perhaps reminiscent of the sense of community felt when sharing a good meal. Additional highlights will include a stunning glass and brass entryway, white tulip lights, a floating wall behind the bar, and a semi-private lounge offering a serene escape for guests seeking respite with a cold brew or signature craft cocktail.
Speaking of cocktails, diners and shoppers will have two options for enjoying fresh-made drinks, small plates, pastries, and a Katz coffee program: the main bar upstairs or the satellite bar on the first floor of the Saks Fifth Avenue store and located adjacent to women's fragrance. That's right — shoppers can take a load off their Louboutins and reenergize with an espresso before diving back in to the Baccarat.
Guests can enter the restaurant via the second floor of Saks Fifth Avenue or take advantage of the private valet service and entrance located off Westheimer, particularly helpful after mall closing hours when access was previously limited. A dedicated elevator will deliver diners directly to the hostess stand from the ground-level valet or underground parking garage and return them at their leisure.