After a fairly brief tangle with orange cones and lanes to nowhere, I made it to the Uptown Park strip center, dodging a few dozers and front-end loaders before finding a parking spot.
The first Houston location of Flower Child opened September 12. Many residents of the Bayou City have previously tried the two Austin spots and another in Dallas, so were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the clean-eating, farm to table restaurant. Flower Child is another successful feather in restaurateur Sam Fox's cap. His company, Fox Restaurant Concepts has more than a dozen successful restaurant concepts, including North Italia, which opened a Houston location in 2015. And while Flower Child is more hipster than hippie, it offers some wonderfully tasty options for vegans, vegetarians and those with special dietary needs, without leaving the carnivores completely out of the loop.
I first visited Flower Child with my favorite hippie chick, who loves tasting new foods more than anyone I have ever seen. She would be every restaurants' favorite critic, since she tends to find almost everything "amazing". The sunshine-y atmosphere of Flower Child was right up her alley. Our one obstacle was the ordering process itself. The fast-casual concept features counter service, which can be off-putting to indecisive people like us. We have been known, much to the irritation of our spouses, to hem and haw over a menu before ordering plates that we both can sample. Fortunately, I had made up my mind beforehand by looking at the menu online. My companion needed a minute. There are menus available to peruse while in line. And that line can be pretty extensive, though it moves fairly fast. The staff of smiling faces eases the wait.
My companion chose the vegan poke ($9), albeit with a salmon filet on top. We decided to split an appetizer plate of avocado toast. We ordered our drinks, a sparkling kombucha for her and a sparkling wine for me and found a table in the bright, window-lit dining room.
Everything is new and fresh. The decor is fairly minimal, with green plants circling the ceiling, a single flower on each table, a few inspirational signs and a pleasing green paint trim on the windows.
My friend found her sparkling kombucha to be okay, but not as carbonated as she expected. It does come in at a pretty steep price ($6). When we received our avocado toast, it too seemed a bit expensive ($7), but it was delicious. It's basically one slice of whole grain bread, sliced into three soldiers, served with a good portion of smashed avocado, sprinkled with chopped boiled egg, white cheddar and black sesame seeds. Personally, I couldn't really taste the cheese and I don't see the need for the sesame seeds, either.
I felt that to be the case with my steak as well. It was served medium rare (though the menu says medium) and was very tender. It seems to me that the kitchen has a light hand with the salt and pepper due to the fact that the protein choices usually end up in salads, wraps and veggie bowls, so much of the flavor will come from the dressings and other ingredients.
As far as the sweet corn quinoa, where have you been all my life? I know as a food writer, I should not admit that I have never been on the quinoa train, but when I dine out, it just seems like a boring option. I cook lots of grains at home, but the quinoa is usually mixed in with other grains. This was a revelation. The corn was well and truly sweet, offset a bit by the tanginess of the Greek yogurt. It's a dish that I would love to eat for breakfast.
We each decided to try a dessert, because it's rare to have someone with you that doesn't mind trading food back and forth. My friend had the lemon muffin and I went for the dark chocolate pudding. The lemon muffin is gluten-free, but I couldn't tell. The lemon zest comes through in a burst of flavor, but it tastes of real lemon, not the fake taste that so often accompanies lemon desserts.
My second trip was a little less fun since I was on my own. I lined up behind office workers, well-heeled older couples and young moms, most of whom were repeat customers already, though the restaurant has been opened less than three weeks.
I was told a number by a hostess with a clipboard who said to use that number when ordering. The corresponding number sign would be would be on my table after I ordered. I elected to eat on the outdoor patio, because it was one of those rare Houston days under 90 degrees. I ordered my lunch and a Eureka Heights Brewing Company beer on tap, which was served in a jar. I can't remember what flavor, but I remember it was good and cold. I also got a plastic cup of water from the dedicated water system which has (yay!) crushed ice. There were also lemon slices available. It's the little things that make me happy.
Unfortunately, it didn't blow me away like the earlier dishes I had. The vegan ingredient salad ($8) was a good-sized serving and I probably would have been okay with just the veggies themselves. The roasted corn pieces were so yummy that I wished there were more in the salad. The chicken looked beautiful, but was just a tad too dry. The lemon-tahini vinaigrette was also a bit on the acidic side. The salad itself was nicely composed, with the sunflower seeds reminding me that I have missed them. I had forgotten how much I like sunflower seeds.
The one problem with the counter service is not having a dedicated server. I wanted a to-go box for the rest of my salad, but no one ever came by. I didn't want to walk back inside with the plate in my hand searching for an employee, so I just ate a little more until there wasn't enough left to justify a box.
1101 Uptown Park Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77056
Open Daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.