Chris Shepherd Grows Underbelly Hospitality With Fiery New Restaurant at Regent Square
Chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly Hospitality is adding yet another project to his portfolio. A new concept focused on cooking with fire is coming to Regent Square at 1203 Dunlavy. GID Development Group is working on the mixed-use complex in conjunction with CBT architects and OJB Landscape Architecture. Regent Square is close to Buffalo Bayou Park and a short distance from the Montrose neighborhood where Shepherd started his restaurant empire.
There’s not yet a name for the Regent Square restaurant, but it’s the third new project that Underbelly Hospitality has announced over the past few months. Also on the way is Georgia James Tavern, which is opening downtown under chef de cuisine Matthew Coburn, and Wild Oats, located at The Houston Farmers Market and helmed by chef Nick Fine. Fine started with Underbelly Hospitality as chef de cuisine at One Fifth, and his role has evolved and grown since then. These days, he helps Shepherd with menu development and execution at all of the Underbelly Hospitality restaurants.
The new space, comprised of 5,000 square feet and boasting a rooftop terrace, is expected to debut towards the end of this year. It will anchor the new, eight-acre addition to Regent Square, which will also feature a 600-unit residential building and an additional 45,000 square feet of retail space. Other features of the center include green spaces for rest and recreation, a “signature water feature” and a pedestrian promenade. Ultimately, the huge Regent Square project will span 24 acres, bordered by West Dallas, College Memorial Park and Waugh Drive.
“We’re still working through a lot of the details,” said Shepherd via a press release, “but the idea of live fire cooking using multiple types of wood really excites me. Regent Square is an ideal location for this restaurant and for Underbelly Hospitality — convenient to Montrose, downtown, River Oaks — and it’s great to be a part of a project with so many like-minded people.”
According to the press release, in preparation for the new restaurant, Shepherd has been experimenting with different types of wood —post oak, hickory, pecan and mesquite— as well as various grills and smokers. Truth be told, he’s been known for flame-cooked dishes for a while. The fire-roasted Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly with Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup was one of his earliest signature dishes when he still worked at long-closed Catalan (the result of a happy accident) and One Fifth is outfitted with a wood-burning oven that’s been used for multiple dishes, including steaks and pizzas.
Phase 2 of Regent Square will add a total of three restaurants. Two more are still to be announced. “While we have more surprises in store, we couldn’t help lead the beginnings of our tenant lineup with Chris Shepherd, a chef who has helped to define the dynamic, culinary landscape of Houston and whose passion for food, the restaurant industry, and his city is unparalleled,” said James Linsley, President of GID Development Group.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.