The Establishment, a New Oyster Bar in Uptown, Is (Finally) Open

oyster EST release.jpg

I think I mention the length of time it took a restaurant to open in about one of every three stories I write about a new place. It's tough getting the coveted certificate of occupancy from the city, and unexpected delays can pile up like tile dust on the floor.

The Establishment, though, takes opening delays to another level. It was October of 2012 when Brian Williams and Michael Martensen first announced The Establishment in Uptown. At that time, the restaurant was expected to open in December of the same year. Now a year and a half later the oyster bar and restaurant is finally open, but Martensen is no longer part of the team.

Actually The Establishment has been open for nearly a week, according to the Eats Blog. Just as the local Gulf oyster season winds down, the oyster bar is stocked with 10 types of oysters and charcuterie to back up the kitchen's seafood heavy cooking. A picture of the dining room on the Eats Blogs shows lots of weathered wood, subway tile and silver bowled light bulbs.

There will be drinks, of course, but expect a more laid back version of the mixology offered at neighboring Smyth.

4513 Travis St.,

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We tried The Establishment for dinner tonight and think the restaurant is off to a terrific start.

The décor is rustic brick with plank accent walls, dark wood tables and soft lighting.  Gratefully, there is plenty of private seating along with communal (ugh!) tables. There were few patrons tonight, and the noise level was very comfortable, but the hard surfaces in this friendly room will insure that when this place is busy it is going to be loud.

The menu is spare, featuring a variety of oysters from both coasts, and small plates that included a scrambled farm egg, kale and watermelon salads, a wagu beef offering and a variety of seafood options.

At $3.00 each, the oysters are expensive.  Paying $36 for a dozen fresh oysters will preclude us from seeing The Establishment as an “oyster place”.   There are too many great choices in town for these bivalves at kinder prices.

All of the small plates were $10.00 except the scrambled eggs.  We ordered the calamari and octopus, and a lobster offering.  The first came plated with grilled greens, chorizo and a kale emulsion.  Calamari came in lightly cooked rings and the octopus refreshingly tender.  The flavors of the plate blended perfectly, with the salty chorizo counterpointing the calamari and the kale emulsion tying the presentation together.  Great dish.

The lobster was better.  It was served with tiny snow peas cooked al dente and plated with vinaigrette that tasted exactly like movie popcorn.  Sound weird? It worked. The plate was room temperature and the flavor combination was exalting – sweet lobster, a buttery background with a little zing and the tiny peas exploding with perfect crunch.

Our service was excellent, but with the room less than one-third full, I can’t project how the staff will handle a full crowd.  We certainly had well-informed, smart and satisfying encounters door to door.

The Establishment went instantly to our favorites list, but for us to be regulars the brief menu will have to rotate and we will need to find a time to come when we expect an audible conversation.  I predict they will get 3-4 star reviews and become an instant hit.  


Gulf oyster ='s New England BBQ

 Gulf oyster ='s Minnesota Taco Joint

 Gulf oyster ='s Guatemalan New American

I cook the sh+t out of anything I pull out of the Gulf; otherwise you' get the Cincinnati sh+ts!  Or the Matagorda Dumps, as they are called locally. 


Smyth is a mediocre bar now that Martensen left. Nothing to see here, move along.



Why would you even think about Oysters ??

You know, having to work to get at your food.......Oyster harvesting and shucking is harder than crawdad sucking, or chicken wing eatn............

Just saying.

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