PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston October 2022

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Page 41 of 135

J ames Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Chris S h e p h e r d , c o - o w n e r a n d founder of Houston's Underbelly Hospitality, announced his departure from the company weeks after the opening of his signature restaurant, Georgia James. Shepherd plans to focus entirely on the growth of his nonprofit passion project, the Southern Smoke Foundation, a nationwide relief organization he co-founded as a safety net for those in the food and beverage industry who face an untenable personal, financial or health crisis. Shepherd's business partner, real estate developer Todd Mason of MLB Capital Partners, and the able lieutenants Shepherd installed behind the range and in the front of the house will continue in his stead, including at his latest endeavor, Georgia James, version 2.0. First opened in 2018 as a manly, boisterous Montrose-area steakhouse, it's now been leveled up and moved to a swank spot in the new Regent Square on West Dallas. Shepherd's formidable team (now assembled in a tiered, more corporate structure) obviously recognize the increasingly high stakes of opening a new fine-dining restaurant, where aesthetics is as vital to the dining experience as the fare and polished service. Designed by architect Leo Parker with interiors by Amanda Medsger and Montgomery Roth, the stylish new steakhouse resides in a two-story, 11,000-square-foot glass box where the sinuous layout of the first- floor dining room has high-backed, curved camel tweed banquettes and marble-topped round tables. We await the opening in the coming weeks of the rooftop bar and terrace, a place to absorb the sweeping skyline views. Chef Greg Peters takes the helm, with Who knew the new sleek and polished Georgia James would be Chris Shepherd's last hurrah. Again Feeling a résumé that incorporates a long tenure at Underbelly Hospitality. Here, the star of his menu is beef, 100-day dry-aged on premise in its own temperature- and humidity- controlled room. The time-intensive procedure concentrates the flavor and tenderizes the prime-grade cuts for a better bite. As I ordered my Marigold cocktail, a vodka drink tinged yellow due to golden beets, lemon, chamomile, and elderflower liqueur ($15), what appeared to be a lit votive was placed on our table. While my dining companion sipped his Pear n' Tonic ($16), a half-boule of sourdough bread was placed before us, and the flame was extinguished. Beneath the once-lit candle, the melted wax was actually seasoned Wagyu beef tallow for bread dipping. Regulars will find many favorites on the appetizer menu, such as Viet-Cajun roasted oysters ($35) and bacon sausage, which is actually made with pork belly and pork shoulder, then sliced into coins and served with hash browns and a creole aioli ($24). The raw bar includes East Coast and Gulf Coast chilled oysters ($18 to $42), a classic shrimp cocktail ($25), and a seafood tower with every item on the raw-bar menu (market price). But we veered toward the unexpected selections, such as smoked redfish dip with fried saltines ($24) and tuna tartare with crispy rice, nori, avocado, and soy vinaigrette topped with toasted sesame seeds ($26). But most diners flock to the steaks, seared in cast iron then butter-basted with garlic and thyme. The star of the show is Japanese A5 Wagyu. The exquisitely marbled beef is prepared in a minimum 4-ounce cut at market price. The trendy Wagyu Zabuton from Snake River Farms translates a cushion cut and is derived from the area between the neck and short rib that delivers a richly flavored bite ($65). Texas purveyor 44 Farms supplies rib- eye ($75), strip ($95), porterhouse ($145), and long-bone rib-eye ($185). Go-withs are always the best part of a steakhouse experience, and Georgia James doesn't disappoint. Fans of Brussels sprouts will love this Creole vinaigrette version tinged with crispy garlic and onions ($15). The charred corn, inspired by elote street corn, is tossed with red pepper in a spicy crema and topped with queso fresco ($15). GJ's elevated steakhouse helper is made with leftover beef trimmings tossed with a spicy cheese sauce and fusilli noodles, topped with aged cheddar and browned under the broiler ($17). GM Raul Lorenzana, managing sommelier Fremmiot Rodriguez, and bar manager Westin Galleymore oversee a polished service staff, many of whom migrated from the now-shuttered One Fifth. Reservations suggested; open seven days a week for dinner only. Georgia James, 3503 W. Dallas, 832.241.5088, By Laurann Claridge. Photography Anne Marie D'Arcy. with 36

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