Oak-fired octopus at Guard and Grace
Guard and Grace
Charcuterie tasting at Guard and Grace
Grilled shrimp cocktail at Guard and Grace
Pumpkin Panna Cotta with the Truff Luck cocktail at Guard and Grace
Brussel sprouts at Guard and Grace
Beef tenderloin tip salad at Guard and Grace
Guard and Grace
Houston is known for its diverse dining scene, with chefs from every corner of the globe flocking to make their mark with diners who eat out more than anywhere else in America. Into this environment came chef Troy Guard, owner of the decade-old TAG Restaurant Group in Denver.
For more than a year, Guard (TAO, New York City; Doc Cheng’s, Singapore) ingratiated himself into the Bayou City food scene, partnering with local chefs for pop-up dinners and tastings before opening a new Guard and Grace in downtown Houston. (Trivia note: Grace is his daughter’s name.)
Not many restaurateurs debut on such an enormous scale. The 15,000-square-foot, two-story space designed by BOSS Architecture — with floor-to-ceiling 30-foot windows and 4,600 thin bronze rods suspended from the ceiling — is a breathtakingly bold and daring move in a crowded field of steakhouse concepts.
The menu, executed in an enormous sunken kitchen, feels familiar yet not typical, blending the flavors of East Asia, Hawaii, and Latin American in its dishes. Start your meal with a charcuterie or cheese board, from a chef-selected cheese tasting ($8 to $21) to a prosciutto tasting flight ($19). Impress your table with the grand seafood tower with oysters, shrimp, king crab and lobster ($85/$170).
Or try the yellowfin tuna sashima with citrus ponzu, topped with bonito flakes and microgreens ($22), or the shrimp cocktail served chilled or warm with a spicy wasabi/tomato sauce ($3.50 per jumbo shrimp). As for the main course, carnivores will find mighty New York strip and porterhouse cuts on the carte — not to mention the Brontosaurus Steak, an enormous prime-grade axe-handle tomahawk (market price). Dazzle clients with the meant-to-be-noticed millionaire fajitas: a $400 splurge served with Wagyu, caviar and tortillas sprinkled with gold.
Those of us who enjoy meat as a condiment these days — limiting the quantity and upping the quality — will love the exquisite yet sanely portioned four-ounce Wagyu filet from W Black of Australia ($59). Or, share the love with the filet flight, where you can taste-test four-ounce portions of prime, angus and Wagyu filets ($105).
For non-meat-eaters, try the oak-fired octopus served on a ragu of slow-cooked white beans speckled with Spanish chorizo in a red pepper sauce ($20). And, of course, what would a steakhouse be without the sides: mac and cheese infused with black truffles ($16), handmade gnocchi ($14), chipotle-lime smashed potatoes ($12) and creamed kale ($14), to name a few.
Cocktails were created by beverage director Nikki Guard, the chef/owner’s wife. My favorite is the Garden Grace, a bright orange blend of house-made fresh carrot juice with gin and spicy ginger syrup whose name is a play on the restaurant’s own ($12).
Bourbon drinkers will enjoy compelling house barrel-aged bourbon cocktails, such as the old-fashioned spiced with Sichuan pepper ($16). The by-the-glass wine list is split almost equally among bottles from Europe (mostly France) and California.
Desserts are pretty, composed plates that shy from the typical hunk of New York cheesecake. The ingredients work harmoniously, such as seasonal whipped pumpkin panna cotta with a sliver of gingersnap cake, candied squash and playful caramel popcorn ($12).
Guard and Grace, One Allen Center, 500 Dallas Street, 346.326.0789.