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Downtown Attraction The Grove

A destination restaurant that only sometimes gets it right.

The food ranged from brilliant to uninspired, beginning with the artisanal cheese plate that contained only two good cheeses (Cheesy Girl Buff and a Maytag blue) out of five. The complimentary olives and salted almonds at the table helped to sate our hunger while we awaited our orders.

My dining companion's filet mignon was ordered at the impatient urging of the waiter, who claimed it was the best dish they served. After such a forceful proposition, however, he quickly disappeared without even asking how my companion wanted his steak cooked. Luckily, the kitchen sent it out a respectable medium-rare. Despite the earlier ravings, the steak was painfully average. The only thing that set it apart from any other steak was a woodsy flavor and slight char from being cooked over an oak pit. The puny, wilted broccoli and wholly flavorless mashed potatoes that accompanied it made for an utterly underwhelming and disappointing dish.

The roasted Brussels sprouts with savory chunks of pancetta that accompanied my duck meat loaf were divine. I gave a bite to my protesting dining partner — "I hate Brussels sprouts!" — and he became a sprouts convert within the span of only ten seconds. The meat loaf itself was actually quite good, too, with carrots lending the dusky duck meat a nice sweetness. But the dish was entirely ruined by overly peppery cream gravy that had nothing whatsoever to do with anything else on the plate and — unfortunately — liberally coated almost every surface.

The lamb burger is a fascinating marriage of the hamburger and the gyro.
Troy Fields
The lamb burger is a fascinating marriage of the hamburger and the gyro.

Location Info

Map

The Grove

1611 Lamar St.
Houston, TX 77010

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays;11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Deviled yard eggs: $8

Artisanal cheese plate: $25

Lamb burger: $15

Roasted organic chicken: $19

Duck meatloaf: $28

Filet mignon $38

Pecan pie and key lime pie squares: $8.50

1611 Lamar, 713-337-7321.

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Dessert was the last straw: key lime pie and pecan pie squares on a plate that had been scrawled upon haphazardly with sickly-sweet raspberry puree. The puree gave the pie squares an unwelcome tartness. Even without the abhorrent puree, however, the pies were mediocre at best and tasted bleakly of cold, dank refrigerator. Make-ahead food at its worst.

Ultimately, The Grove suffers from the exhausting theme-park mentality wherein you as a customer are paying for an established brand (the del Grande name, in this case) in a highly marketed, overhyped location. The restaurant ends up almost becoming a cartoon of itself. Indeed, its own Web site even advertises The Grove as "an attraction."

This isn't to say that a restaurant like The Grove doesn't have its place in the panoply of Houston restaurants. Downtown needs destination restaurants, and The Grove does a good job of catering to the crowds that have come for a night at the Alley Theatre or an evening concert at Jones Hall, businessmen entertaining on expense accounts, visiting out-of-towners and convention-­goers, and suburban types who've come to experience urban living for an afternoon.

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