Happy holidays, MONTROSE STAR readers! Every year, around this time, I tell you about an extraordinary Houston dining experience. This year is no exception!
In the last few years, Houston’s James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Shepherd has done a lot of moving around. One-Fifth, his one-theme-per-year restaurant in the former Mark’s space, is still going strong.
Yet it was the first concept, One-Fifth Steak, that proved most popular and perplexing. Why on Earth would he close such a roaring success and transform it into “Romance Languages?”
Turns out, Shepherd had a plan. Underbelly, the chef’s haven for Houston-forward dining, remained popular. But Shepherd wanted to downsize, make Underbelly more personal and experimental. The cozier UB Preserve now prevails across from Hugo’s.
But that left a vacant cavern at 1100 Westheimer. Shepherd had a perfect idea. Reincarnate One-Fifth Steak and name it after his parents. So simple, so right. In October 2018, Georgia James became a reality.
Georgia James is a high rolling steakhouse with all the trimmings. Yet in some ways, it isn’t. The atmosphere and the dress of some patrons are more comfortable than expensive.
Also, the menu isn’t as steak centric as I would have thought. Of equal interest is the Raw Bar menu with oysters and Tuna Tartare as well as the obligatory Seafood Tower (served in two heights for $90 or $145) if you crave attention (you’ll get it).
Georgia James’ entrees aren’t afterthoughts. You can choose from Lamb Chops, Short Ribs, and King Crab Legs, among others. And of course, there’s One-Fifth’s legendary Baller Board. On a table, length plank goes lamb chops and king crab, a ribeye, two Wagyu steaks, a filet, and sides.
But as they say, if you have to ask… For my appetizer, instead of Shepherd’s charcuterie, Tom Kha Clams, or Smoked Pork Ravioli, I chose the Pulled King Crab from the Raw Bar. It’s incredible stuff, the crab so fresh it tasted of the sea. Try it and you’ll never settle for chicken salad again.
At this point, a candle on the table was transformed into part of my meal. The base was seasoned brisket rendering! What a fun surprise for something to dip your bread in — and it tasted heavenly.
All that took a back seat to my beautiful ribeye. With a crusty sear from cast iron preparation (that’s the style at Georgia James), it took no effort to cut into the perfect medium-rare meat. I was advised to order medium as the steaks come out of the pan a bit undercooked. It worked! One of the most flavorful steaks I’ve ever had.
A side dish of Smashed and Fried New Potatoes was decadent, delicious, and far too rich for me to finish.
Service at Georgia James is impeccable. So is the food. So is the Proud Mary, a modern take on a Margarita with ginger and an ancho chile liqueur. I can’t wait to save my pennies for another trip to this stellar high roller of a restaurant.