Grand Lux Cafe
Category: International Variety
Price Range: 20-30$ per person.
Phone Number: 713-626-1700
The Grand Lux Café in Houston’s Galleria (a product of the Cheesecake Factory) reminds us of one of those television cooking contests, where the chefs are asked to put a modern spin on classic favorites. They have such menu items as Double Stuffed Mashed Potatoes Spring Rolls, Asian Nachos, Short Rib Sloppy Joes, and Rustic Lasagna, made with chicken, spinach, and a creamy tomato sauce that are familiar but very unique. They also have some classic favorites like Chicken Carbonara, Wiener Schnitzel, and Chicken Parmesan, and a few things that you never thought you could enjoy as much as an adult as you used to as a kid, like Chicken Pot Pie or Pizza. The menu is so diverse that we had to create a new “international food” category just to house it.
The décor is very cool. The high ceilings are covered in a gold-red color scheme, and are fairly interesting architecturally. The booths resemble something like giant couches, and are very comfortable for after you scarf down the massive portions. Houstonians might be familiar with the building as the former home to FAO Schwartz. The atmosphere is very chic, hip, and modern; unfortunately, that means that the restaurant is usually packed and very loud. Don’t go there to enjoy a quiet dinner, but if you’re in a festive, celebratory mood, this is the place to be.
The portions here are huge, but it all looked so good, that we had to choke down a full 3-course meal, and though we survived at the end of the night, we had a full day’s worth of leftovers.
As appetizers, we had the Double Stuffed Potato Spring Rolls, which were spectacular, although my arteries might not agree. They were crisp spring rolls, like you’d find at any Chinese food restaurant, topped with bacon and cheddar cheese and served with sour cream. The mashed potatoes were deliciously creamy and flavored with a touch of green onion, and were a nice contrast with the crispiness of the wrappers. The bacon and cheese on top was enough to add to it without being an overwhelmingly greasy mess. They reminded us a lot of perfect twice-baked potatoes, only better.
Our other appetizer was the Mini Chili Cheese Hot Dogs. They were simply spectacular. The “bun,” which was a folded piece of bread, was toasted without being crisp and cumbersome. The hotdogs were great Chicago style dogs, and the chili and cheese were delectable.
As our main course, we had Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Royale, and the Short Rib Sloppy Joe.
The Chicken Pot Pie was tasty, but our biggest complaint (out of all of the food) was the whole pearl onions. They were a bit overwhelming in flavor, and became a bit mushy. The rest of the ingredients (carrots, chicken, peas, and mushrooms) stayed crisp, but the mushy onions were a funny texture combination with the creamy sauce. The crust also stayed crispy, as it wasn’t a whole crust, rather it was just a nice, air-filled top, and the pie filling was in a bowl underneath. This made leftovers very convenient, as the top was packed separately from the filling.
The Chicken Royale is very, very lightly breaded chicken covered in a very light white whine butter sauce. The breading is much lighter than a chicken parmesan or a chicken-fried-chicken, and is very nicely herbed. The chicken was very moist, and the white whine sauce was just enough to add some flavor without overwhelming the chicken. The Chicken Royale came with 2 large pieces, and again was enough for a whole second meals worth of leftovers.
The Short Rib Sloppy Joe is a mix of ground beef and short ribs, and tastes exactly how it sounds like it should: an upscale version of the Manwich sloppy joes you had as a kid. While it was delicious, it was by far the smallest portion of the night.
And then came the delicious deserts. I don’t know how we got them all down, but they were THAT good that we couldn’t resist. Take note that some of the desserts have to be ordered ahead of time, and take that into account when deciding how much food to stuff into your face in the first 2 courses. The Molten Chocolate Cake was truly molten, with a rich, delicious, liquid center. A million times better than the same dish at Chili’s. The New Orleans Beignets are served slightly more cooked and less doughy than those that we’ve had in New Orleans, they were still delicious, and come with a vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry dipping sauce. The strawberry shortcake is equally awesome. Strawberry shortcake always comes down to the quality of the cake, and Lux’s is as good as any we’ve had. And, being a subsidiary of the Cheesecake Factory, they of course offer several delicious types of cheesecake.
The restaurant is a little pricey, but not out of line with the quality of the food and the portion size. The fact that you have to order many deserts 30 minutes ahead of time means that you’ll often leave some of it sitting on the table. It will take a lot of self control to keep your pants buttoned at the end of the meal.
Overall, we give Grand Lux a 9 out of 10.
Positives: Great food from start to finish, unbelievable variety, originality of dishes, cool décor.
Entry and Bar of Grand Lux Cafe