Dining In: Third Coast Restaurant Opens at the TMC
Some of the best ideas are born outside the office. This month, the Texas Medical Center opens a new restaurant for the 100,000-plus people who come to work every day at the largest medical complex in the world.
Third Coast, a new dining experience on the top floor of the John P. McGovern Commons, emphasizes Gulf Coast cuisine and the melting pot of cultures feeding into Houston. The restaurant has been designed for all sorts of experiences—from a quiet drink at the bar to a full-course dinner with a dozen colleagues.
“This will be an upscale but comfortable space where physicians, researchers and others can meet for a meal without having to leave the campus,” said Robert C. Robbins, M.D., president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center. “It’s a chance for us to cater to our own community. We hope people from all parts of the medical center will come together at Third Coast.”
Healthy options are a priority at the new restaurant.
“Ninety percent of the menu is gluten free and we are featuring a lot of protein and fresh produce,” said executive chef Jon Buchanan. “We wanted to keep the menu very light and healthy, but still offer a lot of flavor.”
Third Coast sources produce from around the state, including all-natural, pasture-raised beef from 44 Farms in Cameron; microgreens from Moonflower Farms, located about 10 miles south of the medical center; and farm-raised Redfish from Palacios. The handmade, artisan cheese comes from Houston Dairymaids.
“I think the Gulf Coast means seafood and there are a lot of Hispanic, Asian, Czech and German influences right here,” said John Watt, managing partner of Third Coast. “By combining the cultural influences we have here in Houston with the fresh produce we get from the Gulf and farm-raised cattle from around the state, we get all of those elements to intermingle and become the Gulf Coast flavor.”
The bar is stocked with products from Texas and farther afield.
“Texas is known for a lot of great beers and spirits,” Watt said, “and we have also hand-picked wines from California, Oregon, Washington, Canada and New York to showcase the part of the world that we are in.”
The atmosphere is elegant, but relaxed. With dark woods, marble, leather walls and hand-picked linens and china, Third Coast blends classic finishes with a contemporary edge. Visitors are greeted by a bar in mahogany and black marble, as well as a stunning view of the medical center from six floors up. In addition to the main dining area, the restaurant offers two private dining rooms and two conference rooms.
“We optimized the layout of the restaurant, creating small vestibules for private meetings in booths and large spaces for bigger parties,” said William F. McKeon, executive vice president and chief strategy and operating officer of TMC. “You could watch TV in the bar area, enjoy a working lunch with a view, or tuck yourself into a booth and block out all the ambient noise. And the terrace couldn’t be more welcoming. It has a roof and a fireplace, so it can be used year-round.”
For the past 18 months, McKeon, Robbins and Shawn W. Cloonan, executive vice president and general counsel of TMC, have been overseeing the transformation of the former Trevisio space into Third Coast.
“It is hard to call it just a restaurant,” said Lisa Pope-Westerman, a principal at Gensler, the architecture firm that designed Third Coast. “It is so much more than that. It is reminiscent of an academic club that is accessible to everyone in the medical center community.”
Buchanan created the menu with managing partners Watt and Tracy Vaught, the team behind a suite of Houston restaurants that includes Prego, Backstreet Café, Hugo’s and Caracol.
“I have worked in just about every kind of restaurant there is,” Buchanan said, “and now I am getting to put a little bit from all of those experiences into this new flavor we are creating here.”
For more information and reservations, visit thirdcoasthouston.com.