Restaurants / Openings

Inside Houston’s New Georgia James Restaurant — Chris Shepherd’s Steakhouse Has Been Transplanted to Swanky Regent Square

A New Rooftop Bar and Terrace Will Add to the Lavish Scene

BY // 07.06.22

James Beard Award-winning Houston chef and restaurateur Chris Shepherd has leveled up. And up and up. . . Shepherd’s latest restaurant endeavor — Georgia James Version 2.0 — transplants the once manly and boisterous former Montrose-area steakhouse (established in 2018) to quite the swanky spot in the new Regent Square mixed-use development on West Dallas.

Befitting his prominence as one of Houston’s most notable toques, it’s evident that Shepherd and his formable team (now assembled in a tiered, more corporate structure) recognize the increasingly high stakes of opening a new fine dining restaurant where aesthetics are as vital to the dining experience as the food and polished service.

The stylish new Georgia James steakhouse now resides in a sprawling two-story, 11,000-square-foot glass box where the sinuous layout of the first-floor dining room is appointed with high-backed, curved camel tweed banquettes and round, marble-topped tables, each conducive to a cozy tete-à-tete. Near the entrance, a custom light fixture created with amber-hued, hand-blown Czech glass from Forida, Denmark based Blown conjures the idea of smoke rising from the fire pit outside its doors.

Enter and turn right, where Scandinavian-style walnut chairs upholstered with mustard velvet are pulled up to starched white cloth-covered tables. It all serves to evoke classic, mid-century style. Gone are the heavy wood and masculine vibes of Georgia James’ former incarnation, and in its place are environs where conversations can be carried on in hushed tones, thanks to the coffered-like acoustic ceiling panels and the spruce carpeted floor that absorb the din from the open kitchen and raw bar.

We await the opening in the coming weeks of the rooftop bar and terrace, a place to order small bites, imbibe and absorb sweeping skyline views.

Chef Greg Peters now takes the Georgia James helm, with a resume that boasts a long tenure at Underbelly Hospitality (Shepherd’s restaurant group). Here, the star of Peters’ menu — beef — is 100-day dry-aged on-premise in its own temperature and humidity controlled room. The time-intensive procedure concentrates the flavor and tenderizes the prime-grade cuts for a better bite.

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A selection of the dry-aged prime steaks and sides at the new Georgia James restaurant location on West Dallas. (Photo by Julie Soefer)
A selection of the dry-aged prime steaks and sides at the new Georgia James restaurant location on West Dallas. (Photo by Julie Soefer)

I ordered the Marigold cocktail, an easy-to-quaff vodka drink tinged yellow thanks to golden beets, lemon, chamomile and elderflower liqueur ($15) — and what appeared to be a lit votive was placed on our table. While my dining companion sipped his Pear n’ Tonic (made with gin, Japanese sake vermouth, pear and citrus tonic; $16), a half-boule of sourdough bread was placed before us, and the flame was extinguished.

Beneath the once-lit candle, the melted wax was actually seasoned Wagyu beef tallow for bread dipping. It was quite a unique way to start our repast. Only a tiny pile of sea salt beside it would have made it even better.

The Georgia James Menu

Regulars will recognize many of their favorites on the new Georgia James’ appetizer menu, such as Viet-Cajun roasted oysters ($35) and bacon sausage — the chef’s cheeky attempt to create a sausage that tastes like bacon, made with pork belly and pork shoulder, then sliced into coins — served with compact cubes of potato hash browns with a creole aioli ($24). Our favorite app was the beef carpaccio. If you’ve ever enjoyed Vietnamese pho, you’ll recognize the flavors that permeate this dish, minus the broth.

The cured tenderloin is sliced and served with a sprout salad, topped with lemongrass aioli and house-made hoisin sauce ($28). For those who wish to eat lighter, simply order a glass of wine or two from the wide-ranging list, which spans the globe with big, bold producer names and others who remain more obscure. And nibble on the meat-and-cheese board, with selections that change daily ($35).

The raw bar includes traditional offerings such as East Coast and Gulf Coast chilled oysters (ranging from $18 to $42), a classic shrimp cocktail ($25) and a seafood tower that includes every item on the raw-bar menu (market price). But we veered towards the unexpected selections, like the smoked redfish dip (a creamy fish spread accompanied by fried saltines; $24) and tuna tartare with crispy rice, strips of nori and avocado, tossed in a soy vinaigrette and topped with crunchy toasted sesame seeds ($26).

However, most Georgia James diners will flock to the variety of 100-day dry-aged steaks, seared in cast iron then butter-basted with garlic and thyme. The star of the show is Japanese A5 Wagyu, whose A5 designation connotes the highest possible rating bestowed on beef by the Japanese government. The exquisitely marbled beef is prepared in a minimum four ounce cut at market price. The trendy Wagyu Zabuton from Snake River Farms translates a cushion cut and is derived from the area between the neck and short rib that delivers a richly flavored bite ($65).

Texas purveyor 44 Farms supplies rib-eye ($75), strip ($95), porterhouse ($145) and prime rib, referred to here as the long-bone rib-eye ($185).

Options for those forgoing beef include a mighty double-bone pork chop brined in a sweet tea mixture served with fried okra and creole sauce ($55), two pieces of fried Holmes chicken with dirty rice ($36), whole lobster ($135) and Gulf fish served with scallion confit, charred cabbage and Szechuan style noodles ($42).

If you want other options besides beef, there's Fried Holmes Chicken on the Georgia James menu served with dirty rice. (Photo by Julie Soefer)
If you want other options besides beef, there’s Fried Holmes Chicken on the Georgia James menu served with dirty rice. (Photo by Julie Soefer)

The go-withs are the best part of a steakhouse experience for lots of diners (me!) — and Georgia James doesn’t disappoint. Fans of Brussels sprouts shouldn’t miss this Creole vinaigrette version tinged with crispy garlic and onions ($15) or the charred corn, inspired by elote street corn, its kernels shucked and tossed with diced red pepper enrobed in a spicy crema and topped with queso fresco ($15).

While I didn’t grow up with a mother who relied on Hamburger Helper at dinnertime, I’m quite fond of Georgia James’ elevated version: steakhouse helper, made with leftover beef trimmings tossed with a spicy cheese sauce and fusilli noodles, a creamy concoction topped with aged cheddar and browned under the broiler ($17).

Desserts include charred apple pie, which is brought steaming hot to the table, accompanied with vanilla ice cream ($17). Other sweets include roasted banana pie with peanut butter cream ($14) and blueberry tart with frangipane filling and basil cream, cradled in a cornmeal crust ($14).

General manager Raul Lorenzana, managing sommelier Fremmiot Rodriguez and bar manager Westin Galleymore oversee a polished service staff at this new Georgia James restaurant, many of whom migrated from their last temporary post at the now-shuttered One Fifth.

You will find the new Georgia James at 3503 W. Dallas (at Dunlavy), (832) 241-5088, georgiajamessteak.com. The restaurant is open from 5 to 10 pm seven days a week.

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