A Viking Pub and Feast! In Montrose/Midtown (your call here, West Gray locations are tough). This might be a first in the entire country, let alone Hous- ton. Ship and Shield, from the group that owns Kelvin Arms in Rice Village, is pretty darn close to as advertised; quick, everyone get on board lest ye be left in its wake.
The renovated ex-Byzantio interior is quite well done, hitting the Viking theme without going over- board or getting cheesy. Lots of hardwoods, appropriate “art” (including swords, shields, spears and oars), a wood-burning fireplace and a Viking ship for the bar (with dragon bow). There are apparently even furs on the bench but we were too preoccupied sitting at the bar all night to notice. The front and side patios will certainly be a hit year round with the fire pit, board games, darts and bocce court. And the staff? Awesome (and dressed nor- mally). Let’s just say they seem like a group that can happily deal with anything (such as 30 pirates in full garb shipwrecking into the place on a busy Saturday night). Which brings up another of the many perks to Ship and Shield – diverse and entertaining crowds.
While the interior and theme are mythically fun, the food and drinks at Ship and Shield are the real prize you should pillage for. Mead and Aquavit are both well-represented, as they should be in a quality Scandinavian/ Viking establishment. If you don’t know what either of these are, get on the ship, start drinking and ask the bartender for a primer; they would be happy to help guide you. (As an aside, who knew there was an aquavit being produced right here in Houston – Valhalla Premium Aquavit!?) Anyway, back to pillaging food and drink. Slam some ciders and craft beer, because they are also well-represented in the full bar. Quality ones too, no doubt. As far as food goes, it’s mythical, but no joke. The kitchen cranks out some really good food. They found Odin’s other eye (a hard-boiled egg), wrapped it in smoked salmon and fried it, then served it on top of greens. And it’s good. We also recommend Viking Stew (a thick feast of meats) and the Wild Boar Tenderloin Sandwich.
We’ll end by noting Ship and Shield is not a traditional “bar” we would re- view here at LOCAL. It’s a tavern or pub, maybe a bar or maybe a restaurant? You decide, but realize the folks at Ship and Shield are in the early phases and are letting it develop on its own, quality food and drinks paramount, and our high praise no matter which direction it sails.