Sneak Peek: Midtown's New Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar

By Marcy de Luna  |  July 2, 2014
Credit: Paula Murphy

Come Monday, July 7, Midtown gets a new restaurant: Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar. Chef and owner Mark Holley’s name may sounds familiar: His resume boasts such notables as Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Brennan’s of Houston and Pesce at Upper Kirby (now closed).

The space, located on the corner of Elgin and Louisiana, is unrecognizable as the former Sushi Raku. Raku’s sexy accents, including 60,000 pounds of intricately layered red rope, is no more. Instead, the upscale yet casual interior, designed by Eubanks Group Architects, offers modern décor in sleek black, blue and turquoise.

Seating for 200 is spread out over five rooms. The Lancelot Bar (a nod to Holley’s grandfather, Lancelot Holley) has two community tables, several four-tops, a grand bar and oyster shucking station. The central dining room is hidden behind the bar; there's also a private and semi-private dining room and a 10-top chef’s table next to the kitchen.

Holley’s menu is an enticing mix of Pan-Asian flavors with Texas and Louisiana influences. As the restaurant’s name implies, fish, seafood and oysters are the main focus, but there's beef and lamb as well. The bourbon-centric Lancelot Bar offers 22 varieties, plus five infusions (cherry; black mission fig; black coffee and peppercorn; apple; and lavender, cloves and cinnamon). Also on hand: 10 seasonal cocktails, 120 wines and 35 champagnes.

Parking comes easy courtesy of valet and a self-parking garage located behind the restaurant. Holley’s will be open for dinner Monday through Saturday (beginning Monday). And now, here's what to order on your first visit.

Local watermelon salad (pictured): Watermelon, heirloom tomatoes and watercress topped with feta and a lemon and habanero vinaigrette.

Nikkei crudo: Charred octopus and fluke with sesame and white soy gastrique (sweet and sour sauce).

Blackened grouper: Feast on fish in ham hock stock with gold rice, peas and kimchi.

Le Slouch cocktail

The Le Slouch cocktail: Muddled black mission figs mixed with bourbon, aged rum, tawny port and small-batch tonic, shaken and poured over ice for a mildly sweet summer drink.

1995 Kalin Cellars wine: Youthful with good acidity and Burgundian characteristics.