Dominick Lee matriculated from culinary school at the Art Institute of Houston and now he has returned. Lee will lead Augustine’s, a Creole restaurant in the Hotel King David, a boutique hotel that will open son in Riverside Terrace. Augustine’s is expected to open in the fall.
Lee was born in New Orleans and his family was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. His first job was at the now-defunct Johnny Sanchez, an upscale Mexican restaurant in NOLA. He then came to Houston to study, and worked as sous chef at the Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake. Next, he was executive sous chef at Kiran’s, one of Eater Houston’s essential Indian and Pakistani restaurants. Lee went on to take the role of executive chef at Poitín Bar & Kitchen, which closed during the pandemic.
Since then, Lee has spent time in Europe where he studied Creole food derivatives. “Creole cuisine developed from the true blending of European Cultures (Spanish, Italian, French German), African Slaves, and Indigenous people,” Lee said in a press release. “The nuances of the cuisine eventually began to plateau, and the typical food New Orleans is known for is all we kept creating. My life’s work has been to understand my city’s past and how the culture has developed. The term that I’ve coined — Progressive Creole — creates a new history and new recipes that celebrate the idea of this original melting pot.”
Lee also went to New York City and opened Alligator Pear, which made waves in the city for putting Louisiana alligator on the menu. “[T]he people of [Houston] helped me hone my culinary perspective,” Lee said. “I always knew I’d be back...I just didn’t know when.”
While what’s on the menu, exactly, hasn’t been revealed, the press photos include New Orleans style barbecue shrimp, bananas foster, and seafood and pasta dishes.
The restaurant’s name, Augustine’s, is taken from the surname of a family from France, that went to Louisiana where they owned slaves and one of the sons had children with a slave, starting the Creole lineage. From there, the name and Creole family migrated to Texas — poetically mirroring Lee’s journey.
For those who simply cannot wait until the fall to try the food, Augustine’s is offering previews in February. It is selling tickets for $195 each to a pair dinners that explores the story of Mardi Gras with a five-course tasting menu on Saturday and Sunday, February 10 and 11. Lee will also host a Black History Month dinner with Chef Martin Draluck of Black Pot Supper Club (he appeared in Netflix’s High on the Hog) on Friday and Saturday, February 16 and 17. Tickets are available for $225 each.
Update: Friday, February 2, 2024 at 2:56 p.m.: Added clarification on the genealogical history associated with the name of the restaurant