LOCAL Houston | The City Guide October 2016 - Page 18

DINE WRITE GRACIOUS GRACE AT STATE OF GRACE By Janice Schindeler | Photography by Sarah Miller Hush Puppies IMAGINE A BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, A VINTAGE AUSTRIAN HUNTING LODGE, THE FADED ELEGANCE OF HAVANA AND SOME REMARKABLE COMMON SENSE. This odd mixture defines the gracious State of Grace. Walls of antlers, a cozy dining room with exquisite sound-soaking carpet, a moody, romantic bar which by day provides views of a massive oak tree through its trio of windows and by night a peek of the stars. And then … then there is the stunning semi-circular brass oyster bar with its curved bare brick walls crosshatched with gold stencil. The juxtaposition of rough brick, the elegance of the gold paint – genius. It is an interior without flaw, whimsical, humorous and delightfully contradictory, on the narrow edge of stylishly kooky. The restaurant feels intimate, masquerading the fact that 180 seats are available, which includes eight lucky stools at the chef’s counter (where, for the adventurous eater, a prix fixe seven course, chef-driven dinner awaits). Graduate of the CIA, transplanted Californian, Executive Chef Bobby Matos’ menu extends the theme of kooky contradictions, dancing with international flavors, getting down with nostalgia. 18 L O C A L | october 16 The brined and pan-roasted chicken, rich with butter basting, sits atop delicate potato puree – the briny, salty caper-berry garnish snapping the plate together – stirs memories of Sunday dinners. The Mississippi Hot Tamales, spicy thick rolls of highly seasoned ground beef dusted with cornmeal (no masa here) meant to be spread onto the housemade saltines and topped with a splash of respectable hot sauce, were a revelation to me but proved a taste of home to others.