Where patrons can enjoy a civilized drink and chef-driven cuisine
The winding drive toward the restaurant only magnifies the building’s striking presence. The sprawling, Texas-sized special events complex is massive, with twin columns flanking the entrance, a double set of double doors. Make no mistake, Cullen’s American Grille knows how to make a dramatic first impression.
Once inside, guests arrive at a fork in the road. To the left, a vibrant bar scene beckons. Casual and inviting, Cullen’s main bar is a place to savor a civilized drink. To the right is a contemporary circular dining room filled with gleaming tabletops and supple booths, where diners enjoy a refined, chef-driven menu of American cuisine. Each area features distinctive fare to match the cultivated atmosphere.
The bar’s daily happy hour, extended until 11 p.m. on Thursdays, offers thirsty patrons an alluring menu of handcrafted signature cocktails and popular appetizers at half price. Guests can relax while sipping Southern favorites such as Cullen’s take on the Texas margarita and mint juleps, while sampling plates of tempura battered fried Gulf shrimp, Korean pulled pork sticky buns or Angus sliders on brioche buns. Hungrier customers can order burgers, sandwiches, pizzas or even full entrees. It’s traditional bar food, only better thanks to the chef’s use of prime ingredients.
Cullen’s offers an extensive selection of whiskey and is one of only a handful of establishments that allows patrons to sample from its curated collection. A trio of 1-ounce tastings begins at $15, and the list is divided into six groupings from which to choose. Aficionados of the classic spirit may feel as though they’ve stumbled upon mecca.
The composed dishes available in the main dining room will suit the palate of discriminating patrons. With this menu, Cullen’s successfully carves out a completely separate culinary identity from the bar. U.S. Department of Agriculture Prime in-house dry-aged New York strip and porterhouse steaks are offered alongside succulent filets, prime rib and bone-in ribeyes. Steaks are hand cut by an in-house butcher and accompanied by the customer’s choice of classic sauces. Entrees such as bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, Gulf red snapper and duck roulade with foie gras benefit from the kitchen’s exacting standards and reliance on high-quality ingredients. A glance at the dessert menu reveals a sophisticated list of satisfying time-honored desserts. Among them, the Tex-Orleans bread pudding is a stand out, with its crunchy, candied nut topping and luscious brown sugar banana rum sauce.
Cullen’s American Grille
11500 Space Center Blvd., Houston