Pitched as a "modern steakhouse," the Denver-based restaurant differentiates itself from more classic establishments in a number of ways. Instead of a dark room, Guard and Grace has a more contemporary looks that features 30-foot tall windows, a partially open kitchen, and 4,600 hanging brass rods. All told, the 15,000-square-foot restaurant will seat over 230 people with private dining for 88 and an expansive patio that will open next year.
Chef Guard, who worked for acclaimed chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Richard Sandoval before establishing the TAG restaurant group 10 years ago, draws upon those experiences as well as his Hawaiian upbringing to create the restaurant's menu. Yes, Guard and Grace has steaks, salads, and six different potato preparations — including "truffled gnocchi" and "chipotle lime smashed" — but the restaurant has a focus on seafood and vegetables that's a little different.
Meals start with charcuterie or items from the raw bar such as raw oysters, shrimp cocktail, or sushi items such as tuna sashimi, hamachi crudo, and a taco sushi roll (togarashi tuna, avocado, mango salsa, etc). Appetizer choices include an oak-roasted carrot, chili con queso, mushroom-ricotta ravioli, or a locally-influenced crab cake with Viet-Cajun seasoning.
Steaks are available as Angus, USDA Prime, or wagyu from three different sources: Texas, Australia, and Japan. While its possible to tuck into a hulking, 24-ounce porterhouse, most of the portions are lighter; filet, New York strip, and ribeye may all be ordered in four and eight-ounce sizes. Prime rib is also served in either eight or 12-ounce cuts. Non-steak eaters have compelling choices, too, including roasted Texas redfish on the half shell, whole grilled red snapper with Laotian tomato curry, and a Sichuan-spiced rack of lamb.
Want to splurge? Seafood towers with oysters, shrimp, crab, and lobster are available in regular, "pro," and "boss" varieties. A long bone ribeye comes with foie gras and bone marrow butter. Expect some buzz about the "millionaire fajitas" that starts with 24-ounces of wagyu ribeye cap and gold-flecked tortillas; prices haven't been finalized, but that dish should top out around $400.
Steakhouse aficionados will also recognize at least one familiar face among the restaurant's staff. Sommelier Lexey Johnson, formerly of B&B Butchers, is overseeing the restaurant's wine list in conjunction with TAG group beverage director Nikki Guard. Those wines are housed in a cellar that holds over 6,800 bottles. Four martinis and three barrel-aged drinks anchor the cocktail list.
Guard and Grace enters a crowded area for steakhouses, but chef Guard's interesting menu and a prime location in One Allen Center (500 Dallas St.) should help it draw attention. To prepare for his first restaurant outside of Colorado, the chef and his team have spent the last several months throwing pop-up dinners at local restaurants ranging such as Eunice, Armadillo Palace, and Paulie's, which gives them a broader base of support than if they'd just parachuted in from Denver without any advance groundwork.
"The road to Guard and Grace has been a journey," Guard said in a statement. "This is such a special city, not just for excellent dining, but for great chefs who have become friends and welcomed us so graciously. We feel so lucky to be this close to unveiling the project, and I can't wait to introduce Houston to Guard and Grace"
The steakhouse will be open for dinner in the beginning with lunch to follow December 2.