Restaurant News

Chris Shepherd: Cheeseburgers and CBD

Dig in to a juicy, cheesy burger at Underbelly Burger.
Dig in to a juicy, cheesy burger at Underbelly Burger. Photo by Taylor Hall

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Superchef! Yes, Chris Shepherd is making news again with not only a new burger concept but also a CBD cocktail collaboration with Bayou City Hemp Co.

Underbelly Burger was announced May 28 after much speculation about what the new casual Underbelly Hospitality concept at Houston Farmers Market, 2520 Airline, would be. It was hinted at previously in press releases regarding another upcoming Underbelly restaurant, Wild Oats. Underbelly Burger will open this summer.

Wild Oats will be located in the Houston Farmers Market, next to Underbelly Burger, and will be the first restaurant for UH's culinary director, Nick Fine. Currently, it is shooting for a September opening. Georgia James Tavern, a casual offshoot of Shepherd's steakhouse, Georgia James, is slated for a summer opening while his live fire concept, yet-to-be-named, is planned for Regent Square in late 2021, as we reported here in the Houston Press.

Two Underbelly Hospitality concepts will open at Houston Farmers Market. - PHOTO BY HOUSTON FARMERS MARKET
Two Underbelly Hospitality concepts will open at Houston Farmers Market.
Photo by Houston Farmers Market
Underbelly Burger will only have 12 seats in its 1,200 square-foot space but there will be a pick-up window where diners can grab their orders to enjoy at one of the outdoor tables around the farmers market. The menu itself is also small and includes Hay Merchant's Cease and Desist Burger in a slightly updated version. It will be a two-patty, double cheese, standard burger with lettuce, tomato and pickles on a potato bun. The menu will also feature seasonal burgers as well. The beef is locally sourced both from RC Ranch, the next door butcher, and 44 Farms, a longtime supplier for Underbelly Hospitality's restaurants.

Besides burgers, there will be chicken sandwiches and Chris Shepherd's famous bacon sausage (so famous that H-E-B stores are now carrying it) will show up on burgers and as a hot dog. Any good burger joint needs fries and Underbelly Burger will have sidewinder fries, thickly cut potato wedges that are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.

There will be beer and wine available plus milkshakes from Underbelly Hospitality's pastry director, Victoria Dearmond. We reached out for flavors and were told that there will definitely be chocolate but guests can also expect seasonal options such as peach and strawberry.

click to enlarge Chris Shepherd even keeps CBD local. - PHOTO BY TAYLOR HALL
Chris Shepherd even keeps CBD local.
Photo by Taylor Hall
In addition to all the other irons he has in the fire, Shepherd is collaborating with Bayou City Hemp Co. to  launch a series of CBD cocktails at four Underbelly Hospitality concepts. The use of cannabidiol (CBD) in cocktails is a first for Shepherd and he has chosen Texas' first and leading company in hemp processing and extraction. Bayou City Hemp Co. creates a distillate, Mixer Elixir, which will be used at four Underbelly restaurants with each having its own signature drink.

Mixer Elixir is extracted and produced in Houston and is a water-based soluble CBD with a better absorption rate in the body, using proprietary nano-emulsion technology which increases the absorption in the body to as much as 90 percent. That means the benefits are felt faster and more effectively.

click to enlarge Citrusy cocktails get a lift from Mixer Elixir CBD. - PHOTO BY TAYLOR HALL
Citrusy cocktails get a lift from Mixer Elixir CBD.
Photo by Taylor Hall
The research on the benefits of CBD can be varied and not everyone is on board with its miracle status but for those who like it and feel it does a body good, they will be able to enjoy it in cocktail form with Mixer Elixir CBD. At One Fifth (is it really going to close soon?) there will be the Cooler, made with lemon, mixed fruit and ginger beer. Georgia James will offer the Grass Snake, with salted grapefruit tonic, lemon, passion fruit and soda. For those who have run out of new pints to try at Hay Merchant, they can opt for the Swashbuckle, a concoction of lemon, elderflower, hops, prickly pear and tonic water. At UB Preserv, the Streetcar contains blood orange, lemon, mint and tonic water. In each of the drinks, the addition of Mixer Elixir CBD helps to amplify the ingredients. All four of the cocktails can be ordered with or without alcohol.

In a press release, Shepherd said, "Partnering with Bayou City Hemp was an easy decision as soon as I toured their headquarters facility in Houston. They produce the finest quality ingredients from seed to shelf, are local to Houston, and source from Texas farmers; qualities I am passionate about for all Underbelly Hospitality concepts."

Busy. Busy. Busy.
Photo by Daniel Ortiz
So, there's the Chris Shepherd news for the week. We're pretty sure more will be forthcoming.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.