My friend and I grabbed containers of food one after another over the line from the kitchen at Grand Prize Bar last night. Two filled with duck gizzard soup, two filled with a cassoulet-like mess of duck and beans, two more filled with fish pie and brussels sprouts.
On top of those went plates heavy with feta cheese and bread, sticky toffee pudding and clotted cream. We hurried them outside to a picnic table, where four more friends waited. Containers were popped open and plastic utensils passed quickly around the table before the feeding frenzy began.
Just another Wednesday night in Montrose.
Grand Prize is now serving food from Feast each night starting at 8 p.m., in a serve-yourself, cash-only sort of arrangement with transactions not too far removed from what I imagine black market organ sales to be like. Gizzards here, skin there, perhaps a heart or two.
It's the kind of set-up that only a marriage between Feast -- the one true nose-to-tail restaurant in Houston -- and the bawdy Grand Prize Bar could have produced. And although it's only about a week old, the food seems to be moving pretty swiftly.
It's a worthy successor to the bar's previous biweekly Ghetto Dinners, which have ceased production now that co-founder Adam Dorris has started working under chef Justin Bayse at Stella Sola on a full-time basis. The food is every bit as high-end and the prices are every bit not, with each item on the nightly menu costing either $5 or $10.
As we opened the containers of cassoulet, filled up with white beans and dark duck meat, my friend asked how much it had cost. "Just ten bucks," I replied.
"That's it? Jesus. The same dish at Feast itself would cost $24.95 at dinner!" came her astonished reply. Of course, a little of the Feast ambiance is missing here -- and you're eating out of to-go containers with plastic forks -- but that's what makes it so great.
Sitting outside on picnic tables in a cool breeze last night, it was the best of both worlds for my dining companions: the food we all love from Feast in a highly casual environment where the bartenders were shaking up Pimm's Cups and gin rickeys. One has to wonder, however, about the continued success of the pairing night after night. Part of the appeal of Ghetto Dinner, after all, was its limited availability on alternating Monday nights.
Will the hipsters and Montrose kids that make up a large part of Grand Prize's clientele continue to purchase Feast's food every night? Will food lovers forfeit the pleasant environs of Feast's beautiful old house to eat in what can be perceived as a cliquey, tightly-knit bar of regulars? The two worlds don't seem likely to collide in any other setting.
But for now, the dinners (and occasional lunches -- follow Feast's Twitter account to keep fully abreast of the menu each day) continue. This past Sunday, it was wild mushroom soup and spiced lamb with couscous. Yesterday's lunch was pork cheeks and chicken pie, all of it delivered hot and fresh from the restaurant and ready to go.
Think of it as a non-mobile "food truck" with specials that change every day. Think of it as a collaboration between two Houston iconoclasts. Whatever you think of it, give it a try -- especially if you've never tried Feast's food before. With prices that nearly anyone can afford, I can't think of a better introduction to it than this.
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