The downtown Houston favorite is flush with delicious menu selections, but you don’t want to miss these seven crave-worthy options.
The first visit to Guard and Grace, on the ground level of One Allen Center in downtown Houston, can be dazzling. It is hard to know where to look first between floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views, an open kitchen and bar area, and 5,380 bronze rods hanging from the ceiling. The modern steakhouse made its Houston debut to rave reviews in 2019, only months before the pandemic shut everything down. Undaunted, chef Troy Guard kept things going as much as he could, flying back and forth between his home base of Denver and Houston. “COVID hit the downtown area hard. People were mostly working from home, so things got slow without foot traffic from all of the downtown offices,” says Guard.
A new year and a new pandemic era have ushered in a breath of fresh air for the restaurant. Industry veteran Elliot Wood joined the Guard and Grace team as the restaurant’s general manager, and Guard is spending a lot more time in the Lone Star State. He and his equally talented wife Nikki, who serves as TAG Restaurant Group’s beverage director, have fallen in love with the Bayou City. “Houston has welcomed us with open arms, and it’s been such a natural fit for Guard and Grace,” said chef Guard. “The diversity in this city constantly inspires me to create new, bold dishes for Houstonians to enjoy. My family and I have even bought a house in town, and we’re excited to put down some roots in Houston.”
Spending more time in Houston has led chef Guard to tweak some menu items. Many staples will never leave the menu, but it is fun to taste the new things coming out of the kitchen. We’ve rounded up a few dishes worthy of a sample. Don’t worry, chef Guard’s signature carrot (his favorite vegetable) is still a feature with nearly every entree.
Toast of the Week
Thick slices of locally sourced bread from Bread Man Baking Co. piled high with an assortment of toppings ranging from vegetables, meat, or seafood make up the toast of the week. This is an outstanding shareable appetizer. (It comes with four).
Off the Menu Appetizer
You could sample the entire appetizer menu and never get a bad dish, but don’t forget to ask your waiter if there is an off the menu selection. Chef Guard sometimes puts together a unique starter to test new flavors or concepts.
Anytime is a good time for one of Guard and Grace’s specialties – a Filet Flight. Served with 4 ounces of prime, 4 ounces of Angus, and 4 ounces of wagyu, the dish is a great way to sample the very best filet. The gold-grade wagyu is locally sourced from the storied Snake River Farms and has a BMS (Beef Marble Score) of 9-12, which means it is spectacularly tender and juicy.
Alaskan Black Cod
Paying homage to his Hawaiian roots, chef Guard specializes in freshly sourced seafood. The Alaskan Black Cod is a fan favorite, served with charred broccolini, sweet soy butter, and sesame seeds. It is a wonderful blend of flavors. If you are in the mood for a surf and turn option, a Petite Filet and the Alaskan Black Cod make a great pair.
Black Truffle Mac & Cheese
If you dined at Guard and Grace and didn’t eat the Black Truffle Mac & Cheese, were you even there? This staple side dish is a rich, creamy representation of everything that house made truffle béchamel should be. The portion is large enough to share or save some for a midnight snack.
House Made Potato Rolls
Repeat after me: there’s no counting carbs at Guard and Grace. Now that we’ve laid down the ground rules, know that the House Made Potato Rolls will appear at some point before your main course and are worthy of a splurge. Whole grain mustard butter topped with a drizzle of olive oil is the perfect accompaniment to the light and fluffy rolls.
Down South Cocktail
The restaurant has an extensive list of beer and wine and a variety of creative cocktails. Down South is a cross between a margarita and a paloma. Made with Montelobos Mezcal, cilantro, cumin simple syrup, lime, jalapeno, and grapefruit, the spicy, smoky combination is delicious.
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Cover photo courtesy Guard and Grace
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. Visit her on Instagram @gabioftheroses_htx