This upscale steakhouse restaurant for Tony Vallone, Houston’s premier restaurateur, is located in a new mixed-use development southwest of Houston’s downtown. It stands out as a modern classic, the drama beginning with the 45-foot undulating canopy at the entrance. The lower floor accommodates diners in two venues: a large formal dining room and a smaller bistro. Two banquet dining areas are organized in an L-shaped arrangement on the second level.
The client was seeking a refined but contemporary setting for an elegant dining experience with dramatic touches to give the restaurant a distinctive quality – the modern classic character.
Most dramatic of the architectural elements is the definition of the entrance, an undulating canopy that forms a porte cochere then penetrates the glass facade leading into the reception hall and terminates behind the receptionist’s desk, acting there as a backdrop. The canopy is an architectural enactment of entering. The steel canopy’s soffit is design to accommodate anodized metal slats in three colors and is pinpointed with spotlights to give it prominence as the sign and central figure in the building
In the bistro to the right of the entry, the 10-foot high fire torch at the far end is the visual focal point. The space is defined by vertical wood panels, washed by up-directed flood lights, above banquette seating on the interior wall and by dining tables along the exterior glass wall. The 17-foot ceiling is dropped to 13 feet with horizontal wood slats camouflaging the exposed mechanical systems. Lighting is a combination of spots between the slats and contemporary chandeliers.
To the left of the hostess desk is the two-story glass wine house that provides views of the collection from each level of dinning as well as from the glass elevator and from the open stairs. The free floating stairs are inserted between the exterior glass wall and the wine house providing guests an intriguing visual landscape as they travel between floors. Spotlights above and below highlight the displayed bottles.
The bar, located behind the hostess station, features a 40’ long marble counter top, the space providing a social connection between the bistro to the right and dining room to the left. The backdrop for the bar features two white marble shelves for liquor bottles and a gray marble wall penetrated by three flat-screen tvs. At both ends of the bar, vertical glass cabinets containing liquors reach to the ceiling and are accessed by sliding, library ladders.
To the left of the bar is the main dining room where a long, horizontal firebox at the far wall creates a stimulating visual focus. The room is defined on two sides by elevated banquettes with a dropped ceiling with spotlights providing an intimacy of space. Walls behind the banquettes are sculptured stucco with randomly-attached glass shelves holding candles which provide a warm esthetic. Dining tables and chairs fill in the center space. The ceiling has been lowered to 13 feet with the same ceiling arrangement as in the bistro— slatted boards — that creates an inglenook setting for the dining tables. Contemporary, globe pendant chandeliers create a complementary ambience.
The second floor event space can perform as one large l-shaped function area or as two independent rooms separated by folding doors. Walls feature wood cove paneling centered with smoked mirrors. The dropped, coffered ceiling echoes the wall treatment. The coffers have spotlights with pendant lighting in the center. In the second floor foyer, a glass cabinet for wine screens the elevator from the dining space.
The circulation pattern/system is defined by wood flooring for ease of movement as well as direction. The dinning areas and bistro are covered in carpet to create ambiance as well as for sound absorption.