Restaurants / Openings

West U Gets a Swanky New American Bistro With Caviar and a Disco Ball — Gratify is Here

A PaperCity Exclusive

BY // 07.02.21

Sorry, Brasserie 19. Not Sorry. Clark Cooper Concepts, which nailed it with that French-inspired bistro on the edge of River Oaks, has quietly introduced a sister bistro, although American food centric in nature, in West University. And what a beauty it is with a deliciously quirky decor, a user-friendly menu and a raw bar, the only one in the neighborhood.

Competition? Just kidding.

Doors opened on Gratify, 5212 Morningside, on Monday. Already a table of four has returned on three consecutive nights. Perhaps they are working their way through the menu or coming back for the caviar, the Crab Louie and the short ribs. They could be returning to soak up the Old World atmosphere, think Parisian bistro, while dining on American classics. See the full menu here.

“In Houston, dining out is our entertainment for the most part,” Clark Cooper‘s Grant Cooper tells PaperCity. “When you go out to eat, you need to be transported in a sense. You need to have a sense of place. After that you need the service, the food and the whole dining experience.”

Cooper’s family travels and his childhood spent in Belgium inform the white tablecloth decor. He and his wife, Jacy, designed the whimsical interiors that include everything from vintage dining tables and chairs to the insanely divine Voutsa wallpaper to the unobtrusive disco ball. And the restrooms, oh my. They are beyond elegant.

“When the ladies come out of the restroom, I want them to feel sexier than when they went in,” Cooper quips, adding “When you see a disco ball, you know you’re in for a good time.”

River Oaks District

  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
  • River Oaks District - Sept
Gratify, Clark Cooper Concepts’ latest contender, has quietly opened on Morningside in West University.

But don’t be misled. This is a classy bistro geared to the West U adult crowd that typically indulges the family at Clark Cooper’s kid-friendly Coppa Osteria, located next door. Think date night. “Relaxed elegance,” is Cooper’s take on the interiors.

Prior to the pandemic, the Gratify space was the home of Punk’s, another of the team’s restaurant concepts.

“During the pandemic, it was more of an opportunity to take this space and put it into something that we thought was more suited to the neighborhood and our clientele,” Cooper explains.

When up to full speed, the dining room will seat more than 70 including the perches at the bar, one end of which is the charcuterie station and the other is the raw bar where succulent oysters, Kaluga and Osetra caviar, and yellow fin crudo are always on ice.

Gratify on Morningside in West University can seat more than 70 for dining on its American bistro fare.

Just inside the front door, a Lilliputian lounge, featuring a loveseat from former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s Austin office, will host six to eight guests while a tiny table for two just around the corner is Cooper’s favorite. It’s very romantic.

The fully covered patio, which seats up to 100, was in action on this Thursday night and will surely be a draw once the weather cools. Wicker chairs on the patio are ’80s vintage Italian, a find from Round Top.

“When you see a disco ball, you know you’re in for a good time.” — Grant Cooper

Gratify, so named in gratitude for staff and patrons who kept Clark Cooper Concepts in business during the pandemic, is open for dinner service only Tuesdays through Saturdays. The limited days and hours are due, Cooper says, to staff shortages that are being felt across the restaurant industry. The plan is to ultimately be open seven days a week and include lunch service.

“Coming out of the pandemic, it’s the hiring,” Cooper notes. “It’s beyond what I even imagined and it hasn’t gotten better and it’s disappointing. It’s July Fourth weekend and I’m not fully staffed yet.”

The staff shortage has put the brakes on the team’s plans for converting The Dunlavy into a full service restaurant. In the meantime, Cooper is concentrating on getting Gratify up to full speed. He added that even Brasserie 19 is short on staff.

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