Every other Monday around 8pm, the Grand Prize Bar fills up with an eclectic mix of food-minded individuals hoping for a taste of gourmet without the price tag.
The brain child of Adam Dorris and Will Walsh, the ad-hoc “Ghetto Dinner” is a no-nonsense affair devoid of all the trappings found in fine dining establishments.
Expect a server to take your order? You won’t get one. Instead, like the rest of the plebeians in the joint, you have to go to the kitchen and place an order over the counter, where they only accept cash.
Want to eat with porcelain china and shiny polished silverware? While you won’t have to stoop to eating with your hands, paper plates and plastic cutlery are the best you’re going to get.
Want to know what’s on the menu? Photocopies of the handwritten menus can be found floating around the bar. The one I spied the night I was there had a big water stain on it, ostensibly from someone’s drink, but was still readable.
It’s the menu that will grab your attention, because the dishes are not what you would normally find in the ghetto. On the night I was there, 2010 James Beard Nominee Justin Basye, Executive Chef at Stella Solla, was helping out the in the kitchen. For $5, team Justin offered a starter of tortelloni en brodo, fresh ricotta, dandelion greens, turkey. The main course was a pork tenderloin ‘rosa di parma’, cavolo nero, anchovy, pancetta, cippolini, pickled mush for a mere $10.
Past starters include items like Black Trumpet & Potato Gnocchi, Roasted Shallot, Local Greens & Radish, Salame di Sant’Olcese, Truffle Oil; or oolong smoked head-on third coast white shrimp, sticky rice, baby bok choy, shroom. thai-ga-style green curry, just $5 each. Past mains include items like Hereford skirt steaks, grilled endive, onion & okra pickles, salsa verde; or sweet and sour crispy Berkshire pork belly, papaya salad, and sriracha sizz-erp, all for a mere $10 each.
For the best experience, get there early for easy street parking and to snag a good seat. Then, order one of their excellent cocktails to sip and savor while basking in the subdued red glow of the chandelier-enhanced ambient lighting.
You may have to eat your food standing up, wait a fairly long while for the food to come out (an hour long wait is not unusual), and if you get there too late, they may run of food, but the for food lovers, gourmet in the ghetto is pretty sweet.
Grand Prize Bar 1010 Bank Street, Houston, TX 77006
Ghettodinner.com. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for up to date menu announcements.