Veteran Houston restaurateur Benjy Levit is quadrupling down on the Rice Village building that houses his concepts Local Foods, Local Foods Market, and Lee’s Den, with the addition of a new chef-driven concept set to open in the same digs on Tuesday, March 21. Eau Tour, meaning “water journey” in French, is taking up residence in the former longtime home of Thai Spice at 5117 Kelvin Drive, with executive chef Kent Domas (The Classic, Alice Blue) at its helm.
“Our goal is to open an intimate space with a refined, but not too serious, dinner party atmosphere, with food meant to be passed around accompanied with fun tunes”, said Levit. “Eau Tour is a spot for the community to hang and enjoy happy habits.”
A menu of contemporary French cuisine will boast a number of dishes prepared in the restaurant’s wood-burning Josper oven, while also putting the spotlight on gems from the sea. Curated by Domas, with support from Lee’s Den executive chef Maria Gonzales, highlights include scallop Crudo with blood oranges and pistachio dukkah, seared sea trout with smoked onion soubise and grilled frisee, and pork Milanese with tomato, dill, charred cabbage and chili oil.
As is common with all of Levit’s concepts, a well-curated wine program will be a major draw at Eau Tour. A crop of traditional and avant-garde producers from France’s classic regions will be showcased, alongside American wines.
Unlike Lee’s Den next door, which only offers wine and wine-based cocktails, Eau Tour will offer cocktails alongside the wine list as a complement to its menu. The cocktail program features riffs on classics like the Le Vierllard Nouveau, an old-fashioned that is crafted with barrel-aged gin, Demerara simple syrup, and Amer liqueur, and whimsical choices like the Mean Left Hook, made with rhum Agricole, green chartreuse, coconut, pineapple, and lime served in a fish-shaped vessel will surely have guests reaching for their phones to capture the moment. While many guests may be on a mission to booze, those who are not may enjoy Eau Tour’s cocktails in a small, shot-sized format as a responsible alternative.
Eau Tour’s attractive plates and cocktails are just as striking as the 2,000-square-foot space, which has received a hefty makeover since its Thai Spice days. Designed by Garnish Design, the restaurant is illuminated by light from custom stained glass windows and vintage light fixtures. An entrance on Kelvin Drive leads guests upstairs to the dining room, which offers booth and banquette seating for 60, 11 coveted bar seats, and a covered patio. Adding to its charm are original terrazzo floors and brick walls, dating back to the 1960s when the space operated as a bank, that have been preserved.
While Houstonians can get a peek at the outside of the new restaurant while shopping at Local Foods Market or dining at Local Foods or Lee’s Den, they’ll have to wait until next Tuesday to venture inside and eat. Eau Tour will be open for dinner service Tuesday through Sunday, from 4 to 10 p.m. with reservations available now on Resy.