Poitín, the bar and restaurant in Sawyer Yards by Houston restaurateur Ian Tucker, opens to the public today. The restaurant’s name is a nod to Tucker’s Irish heritage: it’s named after poitín, an Irish spirit that predates whiskey and dates back to 548 A.D. Poitín is also considered an Irish moonshine, thanks to the fact that it was outlawed for hundreds of years before production was allowed to resume in 1989.
Besides introducing diners to this little-known liquor, Poitín also brings Tucker’s experience as a restauranteur — he owns Balls Out Burger in the Heights, as well as two eateries called The Exchequer in Dublin — into play.
Tucker tapped rising star chef Dominick Lee — former sous chef at Kiran’s — as executive chef, and the menu at Poitín offers both globally-inspired small shared plates and entrees and large sharing dishes for diners seeking a heartier meal.
Highlights on the small plates front include New Orleans-style chargrilled oysters with compound butter and parmesan; a beautifully plated scallop aguachile; corn elote; peasant chicken based on Lee’s mother’s recipe; and the house hummus topped with braised ras-el-hanout lamb served with toasted bread.
Dinner entrees range from cauliflower steak to chef’s cut Texas wagyu beef or Thai-inspired chef’s choice fish, while larger dishes to share include choices such as whole fried fish with papaya and mango salad, or a Marble Ranch bone-in short rib served with Korean-style seasonal banchan (side dishes).
All the breads are made in-house by executive pastry chef Dory Fung, whose dessert menus include an house-made ice cream flight and a “Poitín baba,” a play on baba au rhum made with poitín, along with an Instagram-worthy 24 Karrot cake dressed with gold flakes.
In terms of restaurant design, Tucker worked with Houston-based Studio RED Architects on the buildout of the space, bringing interior designer Erin Hicks (whose projects include Helen Greek Food & Wine and El Big Bad) for the final finishing touches. The 3,650-square-foot space features floor-to-ceiling windows, a 28-foot curved bar, a back-lit wine bottle wall in the main dining spaces, several curved booths, and limited-edition images on recycled cardboard by artist Elizabeth Lucas. Set apart from the main dining room and bar are two smaller, anterior dining spaces, as well as a private dining room.
Bright peacock blue accents contrast with leather and houndstooth finishes on the banquettes and booths, with mid-century modern and art deco elements like the spiky gold chandelier in the lobby and the chesterfield leather sofa positioned just inside the entrance. Other fun design elements include an accent wall adorned with monkey wallpaper and a gritty, gray-toned cinderblock wall. In the back, there’s also a 1,200-square-foot shaded patio with spectacular views of the downtown Houston skyline.
An excerpt from the cocktail menu best summarizes what diners will find on the libation front at Poitín: “Welcome to Poitín. Guided by a mantra of high-end and low-key, Poitin is the marriage of an experimental cocktail club and and easy-going, comfortable neighborhood bar, one where hospitality and skill work in concert.”
Poitín is located within the Sawyer Yards complex at 2313 Edwards St., will initially be open for dinner service Sunday thru Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., with Happy Hour weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.