Loch Bar and Ouzo Bay: Where Seafood is the Star
If you’re wondering where you can get caviar at 1 in the morning, with your dog in tow, Loch Bar is the spot.
I did not have caviar at 1 in the morning, nor did I bring my dog Pearl to this seafood-tavern-meets-speakeasy outlet, but it’s nice to know this is an option.
Located in the exclusive River Oaks District, this Baltimore-based brand run by brothers Eric and Alex Smith serves up a wide selection of seafood in a sleek and sophisticated space and on an outdoor patio that, to my surprise, is dog-friendly. Loch Bar is the Smith brothers’ first expansion into Texas and, so far, it seems like Southern hospitality is serving them well. Even on a Monday evening, the place is bustling.
Guests at the bar sip on the signature cocktail: a smooth blend of Maker’s Mark 46 bourbon, lemon and honey, or, my personal favorite, the Arnold Palmer Crush – Deep Eddy’s sweet tea vodka, simple syrup squeezed lemon, topped off with champagne. As Buzz editor Joni Hoffman put it, “This is like, maybe-we-need-an-Uber good.” (Don’t worry, we stayed safe).
On the food side, my favorite appetizer was the yellowfin tuna poke. I love raw fish, but after half of my college class suffered food poisoning from sushi during a class dinner a few years ago, I’m picky about where I get my raw fish. I had no fears at Loch Bar. You also can’t go wrong with the shellfish tower, which offers the chef’s selection of East Coast oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp cocktail, Alaskan King Crab, Maine lobster and crudos.
After we’d sampled a range of cocktails and starters, Atlas Restaurant Group Operating Partner Ryan Studt brought out small shot glasses. I instinctively tensed. My experience with shots brings up memories of college dorm rooms and Dubra vodka. But this was nothing of the sort. Ryan poured smooth Maker’s 46, and it went down like sugar.
For dinner, we walked over to the next-door gem, Ouzo Bay, Loch Bar’s sister restaurant, also operated by Atlas Restaurant Group. I’ve never been to a restaurant in Houston that compares to Ouzo Bay. There, the fish is flown in daily from the Mediterranean, and the menu boasts the city’s widest selection of Greek wines.
As soon as we sat down – in the same booth where the notable Pappas family grandmother (the “Yia Yia”) celebrated her 90th birthday recently – we were brought plates and plates of food. First came the “flaming saganaki.” Not only is “saganaki” fun to say, it’s delicious too. In case you’re like me and had no idea what this is, it’s pan-fried Kefalograviera cheese flambeed with brandy right at your table. Next was grilled calamari, grilled Portuguese octopus, an assortment of warm breads and a watermelon feta salad.
I was pretty much full at this point – the appetizer course! - but still managed to eat my fair share of the mains: wild-caught branzino, gulf red snapper and Norwegian langoustines. But Ouzo Bay doesn’t stop at fish; their menu even includes steak and chops, like a bison short rib that Joni said was her favorite dish.
We washed all of this down with a bottle of Greek white wine, which I learned has lower alcohol content and higher acidity levels than other wines. We waited a bit for dessert, but perhaps this was for the best, as it gave us time to digest everything we had already consumed.
When dessert was brought out, I can tell you it was worth the wait: baklava with locally-made vanilla gelato. I have a sweet tooth that can be difficult to satisfy, but even a small bite of the baklava hit the spot.
Ouzo Bay, I’ll be back for more. Loch Bar, next time it's happy hour on the patio with Pearl.
Editor’s Note: Loch Bar is located at 4444 Westheimer Road, Suite G110. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Happy hour is available at the bar Sunday-Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Ouzo Bay is right next door, at Suite G130. Their hours are (lunch) Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; (dinner) Sunday-Tuesday, 4-10 p.m. and Wednesday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-12 a.m.; (bar) Sunday-Tuesday, open until 12 a.m., Wednesday-Saturday, open until 2 a.m.; (brunch) Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. They also offer a happy hour menu Sunday-Friday, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
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