From meat to seafood: Underbelly makes big menu change

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- James Beard award-winning chef Chris Shepherd made a huge announcement about a change to the menu of Underbelly, one of Houston's most acclaimed restaurants.

Underbelly has been a big treat for many Houston foodies. Shepherd's impressive culinary talent has attracted people from all over the world. His restaurant is a must visit when celebrities are in town.

Shepherd has received national recognition. In 2014, he won James Beard's Best Chef - Southwest and was named one of the top 10 best new chefs in America by Food & Wine.

Now Shepherd is putting a new twist to his Underbelly menu.

The in-house butcher shop only used whole animal and supports Shepherd's passion for butchering, but that's all going to change after Underbelly shifts focus to fish and vegetables.

"Today marks a new day for me and Underbelly. It's time for a change, and it's been something I have been thinking about for a long time. We have changed the thought process of what we've been doing the past 5 years. We are going to start focusing on seafood, Southern seafood, and we aren't buying whole cows," Shepherd wrote on Facebook.

Shepherd and his team at Underbelly are also focusing more on vegetable dishes and are expanding their search for seafood.

"I want to explore seafood from Southern waters, from Galveston to Virginia. I want more variety," Shepherd said.

He said that he realized that the cow is limiting his and his cooks' abilities to create a diverse menu.

"The entire cow must be used, which results in an imbalance of beef dishes on a 20-item menu," Underbelly spokesperson Lindsey Brown said.

Despite these big changes, Shepherd isn't shifting focus from telling the story of Houston food. His creations will continue to be a reflection of the ethnic diversity of the Bayou City.

The new menu is now being offered. See the list of dishes below.

"It's an exciting time for us. I hope you like it," Shepherd wrote.

RELATED: Underbelly chef shares favorite football recipes

Images in video above courtesy Julie Soefer Photography

Cobia Ceviche - Corn milk pickle, tomatoes, chiles

Crispy Gulf Royal Red Shrimp - Zucchini som tum, peanuts

Grilled Texas Oysters - Crispy pork belly, peanuts, green onions

Vietnamese-Style "Crawfish Boil" Toast - Corn, potatoes, cucumber salad

Szechuan Peppercorn Cured Cobia Crudo - Tomato, herbs, benne

Grilled Gulf Fish, Braised Oxtail - Fried rice

Nuoc Cham Marinated Crab Fingers - Crushed peanuts, onions, herbs

Vietnamese Peanut Pesto-Crusted Red Fish - Lemongrass glazed potato

Gochujang Roasted Fish Collar Sam - Lettuce, herbs

Seared Tuna - Thai-style cucumber, tomato and long bean salad

Seared Red Snapper - Gulf shrimp handi, okra, eggplant

Fried Softshell Crab - Corn Maque Choux, Green Tomato Relish

UB Seafood Tower - Alabama oysters, Gulf shrimp, UB tamarind cocktail sauce, jalapeno lime mignonette, jumbo lump crab with chile mayonnaise, lime and crispy shallot; char siu tuna tartare, pickled lotus root, benne seed; garam masala smoked fish salad; dried chile lime marinated shrimp salad; Nuoc cham marinated crab fingers, crushed peanuts, onions, herbs

Roasted Mushrooms - Bacon, egg, toast

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