More than 180 years after a steamship carried the founders of Houston to the brand-new capital of the Republic of Texas, a new restaurant pays homage.
Hull & Oak opened March 24 at The Laura Hotel, Autograph Collection at 1070 Dallas Street. The hotel, which opened in fall 2021, is named after The Laura, the steamship that traveled the Buffalo Bayou carrying the men that established Houston.
As such, the new restaurant has strong nautical vibes, set in a renovated space with high archways, curves that mimic the design of a boat, and sea green chairs.
The food also aims to draw on Southern history with an array of traditional Texas dishes. Expect breakfast and brunch items like pound cake French toast with blueberry compote and lemon curd, fried cheddar grits with crawfish etouffee, pulled pork Benedict, and Johnny cakes topped with strawberry preserves, fresh berries, whipped lemon ricotta, and smoked maple syrup. Dinner features appetizers like deviled eggs and hot honey wings, with heartier entrees like the smoked half chicken, a seared salmon with blackened shrimp, savory cajun bread pudding and green beans, and a double bone pork chop, accompanied by a sweet corn puree, roasted succotash, and fried okra.
Executive chef John Nguyen, who has worked at Michelin-starred restaurant SPQR in San Francisco, leads Hull & Oak following a stint as executive banquet chef at Austin City Convention Center.
A major highlight at Hull & Oak is the barrel-aged cocktails, including a traditional and Oaxaca Old Fashioned — the latter made with both mezcal and tequila — plus a Vieux Carre cocktail mixing whiskey, cognac, vermouth, and bitters.
The standard cocktails also aim to impress. The “Smokin In The 713” puts on a show, combining Woodford Reserve bourbon, amaro, salted honey, and bitters with smoked cedar for an extra touch. The vodka-based Southern Tea, just as it sounds, offers a refreshing combination of sweet teach, peach, amaro Montenegro, and lemon, while the rum-based “S.O.S,” made with banana, cinnamon, pineapple, and lime, offers a pick-me-up.
The restaurant is also slated to offer special programming, including tastings with local distillers, mixology classes, and an upcoming collaborative dinner with The Duckhorn Portfolio on April 27, which features a three-course meal.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, the Laura steamboat was built in Louisville, Kentucky. The small boat set sail for the first time in September 1835, taking off down the mouth of the Brazos River to help capture a Mexican cruiser. The Texas government later used Laura to deliver men and supplies in and out of ports during the Texas Revolution.
In January 1837, Laura became the first boat to travel the Buffalo Bayou, transporting Houston’s founders Augustus C. and John K. Allen to Houston.
Breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays, and from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekends. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit their website.