Long-Awaited Emmaline Debuts Next Month
After more than a year in the making, Emmaline from new restaurateur and longtime industry professional Sam Governale is expected to open early in September. It debuts in the space formerly occupied by Teala’s at 3210 West Dallas.
Governale is positioning Emmaline as a neighborhood hub for residents in Montrose, River Oaks and the nearby Washington Corridor. Described as a place for “informal all-day dining, coffee catch-ups, cocktails on the patio and late-night bites,” Emmaline will feature dishes by executive chef Dimitri Voutsinas. His experience includes Bar Boulud, Motorino Pizza and La Gamelle, all in New York City. Ashley Putman, a Louisiana native, is putting her design experience to work as Emmaline’s creative director.
The planned menu is American with European influences—and perhaps the biggest influencer is Italy, as the overall vision for Emmaline is that of a trattoria. “In Italy, the classic trattoria is the epitome of a neighborhood kitchen, literally serving as the cultural thread for the people in that township,” explained Governale via press release. “This is my vision for Emmaline, a commitment to our neighbors to be, very simply, a place where we will genuinely care for the well-being of our guests while offering a home-away-from-home experience.” Along those lines, Governale plans to serve family-style dinners on Sundays.
Service will run from morning to late night all week. A day begins with breakfast offerings that include Eggs Florentine, Mascarpone Pancakes and fresh pastries from “The Market,” an open kitchen where guests can interact directly with the staff. Midday will bring a daily selection of Tea Sandwiches, such as Egg Salad on brioche.
Planned dinner dishes include Seared Fresh Sea Scallops with grilled zucchini and flower, sorrel and crispy black rice; Wood-Roasted Pork Chop with fennel “apple sauce” and glazed root vegetables; and Stuffed Peppers with smoked farro, other ancient grains, currants and pine nuts.
With all those savory items, there simply must be dessert—and so there is. The selections include Dark Chocolate Espresso Torta; Florentine Street Schiacciata with black grapes and mascarpone icing; Backyard Wedding Cake with praline and coconut, a Banana Split with housemade gelato and assorted petit fours.
Sharable dishes are still very popular and Emmaline will oblige with its offerings of Charbroiled Oysters and Pearls, Fontina Fondue, rotating meat and cheese pairings and little grilled pizzas.
Diners won’t have to sweat a dress code, so to speak, as Governale notes that he hopes guests will come as they are, even if that’s from a jog along nearby Buffalo Bayou.
Teala’s patio has been preserved and enhanced with what creative director Putman calls “a botanical thread” that ties the indoor and outdoor spaces together with color, fabric and other materials. A rectangular bar outfitted with antiqued mirrors, wood paneling and upholstered leather and brass stool will provide a central gathering spot for diners. “Hollywood-style” booths provide softer seating nearby, while the main dining room seats about 80 and even sports a refurbished chandelier saved from Teala’s.
Governale was well known for his wine expertise at Fleming’s, so rest assured that skill will come to the forefront. There’s a 1,500 bottle inventory promised for Emmaline’s, all thankfully climate-controlled in a specially-designed wine room. Other features of the space include a 50-seat sunroom and upstairs terrace seating that can double as a private dining space. Those not in the mood for wine can take a look at a selection of domestic and imported craft beer or choose something from the cocktail list instead.
Emmaline will be open seven days a week, serving lunch, dinner and late night as well as weekend brunch and family-style dinner on Sunday. Once open, the phone number for reservations is (713) 523-3210 or email [email protected]. The hours Monday through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
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.