JACKSON — Chef Jesse Houston and his wife, Rachel Horn Houston, have unveiled plans to open Saltine this fall in Jackson.
The 100-seat oyster bar, to be located in the former Duling School building in Fondren, will focus on Southern cuisine highlighting fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables to share. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, the 3,000-square-foot casual restaurant with open-air patio will feature custom beverage pairings from 30 taps of craft beer, a wide selection of rum and several signature cocktails.
Saltine, named as a nod to the plain cracker often served with seafood, will pay homage to Jackson’s rich history with oysters and seafood. Over the past seven years, chef Houston has become an oyster expert, researching the local history with mollusks and studying the subtle differences in flavor and preparation of the beloved bivalves from coast to coast. Houston’s affection for oysters began locally at Parlor Market, where he developed his taste for them under chef Craig Noone.
The Texas native attended culinary school in Austin, Texas, and worked at a range of restaurants, including a stint at City Grocery in Oxford with James Beard award-winning chef John Currence, before moving back to Jackson with Rachel Horn Houston, an experienced front-of-house manager, to open Saltine together.
Oysters will be sourced from the Gulf of Mexico, east and west coasts and Canada and served raw, smoked, wood-fired and fried. Seafood offerings include salt-crusted trout, smoked catfish pate with caviar, crispy salmon cracklins and broiled tuna collar. Diners will also have the opportunity to try creative takes on classics like house made ravioli with pork ragu, “oyster backs” with pickle juice and bourbon, four different po’ boys on traditional New Orleans-style bread and uni-corn, a dish with sea urchin and maque choux.
Chef Houston will work with regional brewers to create frequent proprietary craft beers as well as use a Randall system to make custom-infused drafts on-site.
Rachel Horn Houston has created a lively look and feel for Saltine filled with vintage accents and a nautical theme. Clean white tile will be accented by navy and aqua hues, warm wood tones and large-scale murals, including “The Walrus and the Carpenter” scene from Alice in Wonderland. Antique plates from naval ships and old-fashioned beer engine equipment will function as unique vessels for serving food and beverages.