The Establishment was announced last fall when Michael Martensen, who co-owns and runs The Cedars Social, promised to bring an oyster bar to Uptown. Plans for the space have not been linear, shifting a few times in the past nine months. Last January, Martensen announced a nameless, reservations-only cocktail bar would be carved from the space, which formerly held Trece. Then in March, a newly minted Bar Smyth opened its doors.
See also: This Week's Review: Bar Smyth
The cocktail lounge has quickly became one of the most popular places to drink in the city. The reservations policy was relaxed for the soft opening, but things eventually stayed that way. You can call ahead to the restaurant if you want a table or take your chances with the call box on the door.
Plans for the remainder of the restaurant have continued to shift too. Martensen recently announced the The Establishment would resemble Cedars Social with a 15-foot oyster bar. "We're going to offer something more than brisket tacos and mac and cheese," he said, indicating the new menu would build on the stable of special dishes that have been offered at his restaurant south of the convention center.
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Martensen says his contractors are delving into electric work now, and he hopes to open by the end of August. "We just laid the bar top," he said. As for the oysters, expect varieties from both coasts and from as far away from New Zealand if he can find a source. Gulf oysters, on the other hand, may not be offered at all. Martensen says he's working with an oyster farm in Alabama, and he might include their bivalves, but in general, he doesn't have a taste for Gulf oysters.