First Bite: Clark Cooper Concepts Brings New, Upscale Restaurant Gratify to Rice Village

Gratify, the latest restaurant by Clark Cooper Concepts, opened last week at 5212 Morningside in Rice Village. It’s taken over the space formerly occupied by Punk’s Simple Southern Food, another restaurant from the company founded by chef Charles Clark and restaurateur Grant Cooper. Unlike its predecessor’s Southern-comfort focus, Gratify is more upscale, with features such as elevated cocktails and a raw bar. The only visual leftovers from Punk’s are the general layout of the space and a few light fixtures. 

By 5:45, the main dining room is already filling up at Gratify. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

A colorful velvet furniture arrangement in the entry creates comfortable places to have a cocktail with an Instagram-worthy look.  The disco ball spinning overhead and blue-plumaged wallpaper behind the bar gives the space a showy see and-be-seen vibe. White cloths adorn all tables, including on the covered patio. 

French bubbles and pomme frittes at Gratify. Picture by Sandra Crittenden.

There’s not a bad seat in the house, whether at the bar, the covered patio or the main dining room. Each has its own appeal. For my visit, I reserved an inside table for two. There was a sizable crowd already in place when we arrived. We immediately ordered a bottle of sparkling wine with a half dozen raw oysters and a shrimp cocktail. As the enticing aroma of pomme frites filled the air, we quickly added those to our order as well.

House made taglierini pasta with shaved truffles and Parmesan Reggiano at Gratify. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

I chose Taglierini and Truffles. (Taglierini is a thin pasta cut into ribbons.) After the appetizers, this truffle-loaded dish was a perfect portion for one.  My husband had meatier things in mind and chose the Short Ribs with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. I had a bite. It was richly flavored — and he quickly consumed it. Diners at a nearby table ordered the Oro King Salmon and the Gratify Burger, and those looked very dinner-worthy as well.

For dessert, we shared Salted Caramel Pot de Creme, a softer-set, very creamy riff on the classic. We are eying the Flourless Chocolate Cake for next time.

Pot de créme with Maldon salted caramel at Gratify. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

The wine list is not large but features a good range of selections at fair prices, though cocktails seemed to be the preference at most tables on that evening. The cocktail list features classic drinks like the Negroni and Manhattan, as well as iconic tipples like The Gratify Smash from The Sunset Tower Hotel on the Traveler’s List.

The bar at Gratify. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Based on our first visit, Gratify offers the promise of freshly prepared food, quaffable and affordable bubbles, and attentive service throughout. All of the elements exist for either an elegant date night or a laid-back evening with friends. Gratify nicely rounds out the already extensive restaurant options in Rice Village, and those who don’t live nearby may find that  the quality of the offerings and the hip vibe are well worth a drive. Make reservations online or call (713) 524-7865.

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