First Taste: Flower Child Opens New Location in The Woodlands
Phoenix-based restaurateur Sam Fox opens restaurants like it’s going out of style. His Fox Restaurant Concepts corporation has opened dozens of restaurants across the country, with multiple ones in the Houston area. In 2018, the company brought two of its most popular concepts to Houston, Flower Child and Blanco Tacos + Tequila; both to the Uptown/Galleria area. This week, a second Houston-area Flower Child opened in the Woodlands, further expanding the company’s footprint.
After popularizing the modern health food movement with True Food Kitchen in 2008, Fox and company launched the Flower Child brand in 2013 to build on the company’s healthy, farm-to-market pedigree. After selling its stake in True Food in 2016, the company focused its efforts on growing the Flower Child brand, particularly in Texas and Arizona. The Woodlands seems the ideal location for a trendy health concept that’s already shown success in demographically similar Uptown.
Houston Food Finder was recently invited to check out the new location and try some of the dishes before it opened to the public. Fans of the brand are no doubt expecting an ultra-chic, well-lit and beautifully decorated interior. The Woodlands outpost is no exception. Inside, the walls sport enough art to curate a small gallery, while the open-concept kitchen and exposed ducts give the space a lofty hipster vibe.
Ordering happens at the register, an efficient system intended to reduce wait times. The Woodlands menu is not unlike its Uptown sister location (nor any Flower Child location, for that matter) but does offer a few unique menu items and rotating daily soups. Signature bowls and “plates” — which are just build-it-yourself bowls — are the restaurant’s main focus. Each one combines health-conscious ingredients like gluten-free mac and cheese, red quinoa and organic brown rice with an assortment of greens, grains and spices. Every plate or bowl can be made heartier by adding all-natural or grass-fed meats, tofu or meat substitutes.
The Woodlands menu features Flower Child classics like the “Forbidden” Rice Bowl with black pearl rice, red japonica, snap pea, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, onions, toasted sesame and red chili hoisin. Add shaved beef for $6 or chicken for $5. New to the menu is the Indian comfort food inspired Madras Yellow Curry bowl with heirloom carrots, green beans, broccoli, potatoes, cilantro and brown rice swimming in a bowl of yellow curry. This bowl is best topped with grass-fed steak served at a perfectly pink medium temperature. It costs an extra $6 but is worth it.
Plates are built by combining up to three selections from what is essentially a list of ten side dishes. Items like Red Chili-Glazed Sweet Potatoes can be paired with Indian spiced cauliflower or Thai green papaya and topped with a protein to create a seriously filling, take half to-go, all-natural meal. The gluten-free mac and cheese is a surprisingly al dente and creamy rendition made with white cheddar and grana padano.
Soup options will rotate daily, though a select roster of well-known favorites are sure to play regular appearances. Among them is a creamy and intoxicating Green Curry Cauliflower Soup that should not be missed. The hearty signature recipe has strong hints of coconut milk and curry and a creamy vegetable bisque consistency. It’s currently a menu highlight across all locations that begs to be a permanent menu fixture.
Beverages should not be overlooked at this temple of hipster health. There is cold brew coffee on tap, kombucha tea, wine, beer, daily fresh-made juices and various waters. The best benefits of healthy eating may lie in the drinks.
One thing Flower Child doesn’t do is make bold, baseless health claims, nor does it take unnecessary measures — like promising an entirely organic, gluten-free, or dairy-free menu. Most of the dishes are in fact gluten-free — but some are not. Some contain grains and flour-based bread. Some dishes contain real cheese; others are proudly dairy-free.
The point is, there’s something for almost every appetite, dietary need or lifestyle. The concept does a good job being accessible, something that often cannot be said of its competition.
Healthy eating carries the stigma of exclusivity and transparent pandering. The Flower Child model does its best to leave those hang-ups at the door, though to many (especially in Texas), it will still feel like a stone’s throw away from a yoga retreat or Burning Man.
Our advice to those diners is to keep an open mind, and expect great food. You’ll find that in abundance.