Grand Prize Bar to Become Coolest New "Restaurant" in Town, Plans to Host Rotating Lineup of Chefs in Kitchen

TheModular002.jpg
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
Grand Prize Bar is gonna ring your dinner bell.
Grand Prize Bar has been more than just a bar since it opened nearly two years ago -- it's had a culinary history of its own nearly since its birth. Only a few months after Grand Prize began shaking up its first cocktails in July 2010, chef Adam Dorris and his cooking partner Will Walsh began serving their now-famous Ghetto Dinners to large and hungry crowds.

Popular British restaurant Feast kept the kitchen stocked with hearty pub food for a while, and many a beer dinner has been held in the large upstairs bar area. And a constant rotation of food trucks -- working both on the street and in the bar's surprisingly large kitchen -- kept patrons fed for months after the Ghetto Dinners went on a long hiatus.

Regular patrons may have noticed, however, that the bar no longer has food trucks parked out front these days and that the kitchen has been dormant for a while.

"People are expecting food now," says Joshua Martinez, owner of The Modular. "They want food from Grand Prize, one way or another."

So he hatched a plan with Grand Prize owners Brad Moore and Ryan Rouse to make that happen once again -- and to satisfy an itch for his fellow food truck owners to get out of their trucks for a night and get back into a real kitchen. A kitchen with ovens and other cool toys, like a dehydrator and an immersion circulator.

As of this coming Monday, there will be a different food truck chef in the kitchen every night of the week, serving food to the first 50 people who come to the bar. And lest you think it'll be more food truck fare -- you'd be wrong. Expect gourmet, all the way.

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The kitchen at Grand Prize will be stocked with toys for the chefs and gourmet food for the guests.
Kicking off the new nightly food service this Monday will be a group collaboration between many of the participating food truck chefs and Martinez himself, although he says that The Modular itself will be more of a pinch hitter and will sub in for the other food trucks if needed.

The schedule so far also includes:

Sundays are currently open, although Martinez is in talks with Buffalo Sean of Melange Creperie to come in and bring his crepe-maker with him. (Although, Martinez says, Sean won't be using it to make crepes.) And eventually, Matt Marcus of the Eatsie Boys, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked at Cyrus, the critically acclaimed California restaurant with two Michelin stars to its name, will join the lineup on Monday nights.

The chefs are excited to show off skills that have been dormant while they work on their trucks, many of which have them "pigeonholed" into making specific foods or cuisines. Louis Cantu, who has worked at both Congress and Imperia in Austin, has been keeping himself sharp by driving back up to Uchiko every week to stage in the kitchen.

And Ruth Lipsky, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Arizona and worked the line at molecular gastronomy mainstay Moto in Chicago, excitedly told Martinez about her plans during her weekly turn at Grand Prize: "I can do things other than on a stick! Sometimes I want to put something on a plate."

Pricing for the nightly dinners -- which will begin service at 7 p.m. -- will be slightly higher than at the chefs' various trucks, "because some of the ingredients won't be your typical fare," says Martinez. But, as with the Ghetto Dinners, dinner will cost far less than what you'd pay at an upscale restaurant. And more collaborations are planned aside from this Monday's kick-off.

"At the end of July, we want to do a sit-down dinner for 22 people upstairs that's paired with the bartenders' cocktails," says Martinez. Until then, though, guests will get to enjoy the simple spectacle of chefs doing their best to out-do each other every night of the week.

"It's kind of a competition for each of these chefs in their own mind," laughs Martinez. "The gauntlet is kind of thrown, like, 'I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna show off. I'd better produce something super awesome.'"



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Location Info

Venue

Map

The Modular

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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219 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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7 comments
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Sweetchef50
Sweetchef50

Oh. I thought Yall were saying "get toe..like some new menu item..snout ...ear ....tail ..TOE..get... get toe.. A southern dish darling. Ghetto info too derivative.... .

Red Lobster
Red Lobster

@ Me, you really seem to have gotten your pantyhose all in a bunch over this!  At the risk of sounding "idiotic", I have to admit that I agree with Houstonian.  I love the drinks at Grand Prize, but it's not really a place I would want to go for dinner.  I applaud them for thinking outside of the box and giving all of these amazing chefs an opportunity to showoff their talents.  I just don't think this idea of full sit-down dinners will catch on, especially if it's lobster lol.  I think it is probably best to stick to pub food and meal trucks if you do not have the full wait staff and capabilities of an actual restaurant.

Adam Dorris
Adam Dorris

ghetto- (n.) an impoverished, neglected, or otherwise disadvantaged residential area of a city, usually troubled by a disproportionately large amount of crime  (adj.) jury-rigged, improvised, or home-made (usually with extremely cheap or sub-standard components), yet still deserving of an odd sense of respect from ghetto dwellers and non-ghetto dwellers alike. We use the word as an adjective. We use the best ingredients we can find from the same farmers and ranchers that all our favorite restaurants use. We price our items so anyone can eat our food regardless of their economic situation. Most of the time we make no money because of the quality of the ingredients. All we want is to create an environment in Houston where at least for one night we can get together eat some great food, have some laughs and not go broke doing it. Furthermore, I am very excited for Grand Prize Bar and all the chefs involved with the venture. This will be a very delicious and fun thing for Houston.

Houstonian
Houstonian

Wow "me". First of all, people are aloud to have their opinions. Second of all, I'm sure the individuals running the establishment are fine at what they do, I find the environment to not be very appetizing. Thirdly, I commented on the lobster because it was in the picture and it didn't look good. Not because I think lobster only belongs in "upscale" establishments. I appreciate Grand Prize and their tasty drinks. I also appreciate when people take on new areas of interest; however, for me personally (this is an opinion)... I like Grand Prize as a bar and the idea of full service food there doesn't sound too pleasing. As a side note, for a publication that promotes opinions, editorials, etc. Readers sure do get nasty when other people state their opinions. Way to be ironic.

Me
Me

Congrats on having no idea what you're talking about.  Did you even read the damn article?  And if you did and still stand by your idiotic passing comment,, care to tell us all why?  The kitchen is stocked and maintained by some very professional folks. Also, the irony of choosing lobster to comment on given it's historical significance as a plebeian food stuff is amusing to say the least.

Houstonian
Houstonian

Grand Prize is great for drinks, but food...lobster?! Eww.

Willwalsh1
Willwalsh1

Well, I will try and clear this up a bit. Adam and I started these dinners at his old place dubbed the "Ghetto Masion" because it was, quite literally an old 15 room mansion right off Scott Street. The residents there were broke chefs, waiters, Catalina Coffee guys and students. It really was just a joke and we kept the name when we moved it to Grand Prize. Irony was never something that we intended. In fact, neither one of could really give a shit about being ironic. We would just get drunk and laugh. Being rediculous would be a better description. And before you start in on laughing about the word "ghetto", take note that a good amount of people involved in making this happen have, at some point been on the streets, lived in poverty and even in "the ghetto". So I will say this, how cares if we use the word? We certainly don't. We had a Ghetto Dinner on Memorial Day weekend and plan of having more periodically. Hope to see everyone there complaints or no complaints. Adam and I will be in the kitchen sloshed on PBR and Jameson. Holla!

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