Houston food, restaurants and dining review. Urban living, travel, thoughts and other randomness.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dolce Vita !

500 Westheimer Road

All you really need to know about Dolce Vita is that Marco Wiles, owner of Da Marco's, owns Dolce Vita. That means you get first rate Italian yumminess. Since it opened, I've been here four times.

The restaurant is located where Marakesh used to be. It's not that Marakesh was bad (in fact I really enjoyed dining there), but Dolce Vita is so much better. Houston has been waiting for a restaurant like this for a long time. It's the sort of place where you can come in and have a variety of dishes without breaking the bank. Think of it as Mi Luna with Italian food.

I especially enjoyed the Bacalao, cod. The problem is that I tried it three times and on one occasion it was old. I've had the pizza. It could be so good, but the fresh tomato sauce seeps into the crust making it a bit soggy. I enjoyed the hollow pasta. I enjoyed the salad. I enjoyed the ambiance. I enjoyed the rest of the menu, but would rather you discover it for yourself. I enjoyed the whole darn experience--including the iced tea.

What did I not enjoy? Complimentary valet parking. I admit there is no room for a parking lot, but it still kills me that I have to tip a valet guy to hand me keys to my car sitting literally five steps away.


Galleria III (between Macy's and Saks)

What impressed me most were the Italian accents floating around the surprisingly intimate dining room. The accents come from the Italian waiters. The decoration reminded me of a more classy version of the other new Italian eatery, Arturos. Bice (pronounced bee-chay)is originally a Milan restaurant that has grown by leaps and bounds. Next stop Dallas.

The food here is epensive. Our dinner for four without wine came out to almost $300 with tip. Was it worth it? Let's talk about individual elements.

Decoration: Classy but cheap fixtures, no artwork and uninspired furnishings.

Diners: Excellent. Houston's old money mixed with its new money. Kind of like finding the diner where those who have so much money they don't know how much they have come to mix with those who know exactly how many millions they have and are going to make. Significantly, the place was packed on Saturday.

Appetizers: We had the carpaccio. Paper-thin and nicely seasoned, they were perhaps too thin for my taste. I could barely perceive the flavor on my tongue. We also tried the mussels and clams in tomato sauce. Quite good with crazy fat mussels.

Main Course: Very disappointing. I had the spaghetti with bolognese sauce. the pasta was starchy and the bolognese was dry. Dad had the steak. It looked tough. Mom had the tuna. She had hers done medium, so I won't comment on the taste since medium kills the taste of tuna.

Dessert: The reason to come here might be to hang out at the bar and enjoy the panna cotta (light and flavorful with vanilla) and the berries with zabigogne sauce. Sooooooo goooooood. I'm almost tempted to join their private club upstairs for $1000 to $5000 if it weren't for the fact that I can get those dessert by just dining like the regular folk.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bodard Bistro

9140 Bellaire Blvd, Suite B
(tucked into a corner of the shopping plaza)

Bodard Bistro is one of those hole-in-the-wall restaurants Rekha and I like to frequent. Like many places of this nature, they have a couple of fantastic dishes and a plethora of acceptable, but nothing-special dishes. So let's skip the mundane stuff and go to two of the reasons to eat here... Well 3 reasons, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Nem Nuong Nha Trang. Essentially, it's a spring roll with grilled ground pork
(?) and a cylinder of deep fried rice paper shell. Ohhhh sooo good. No vermicelli on the inside. This spring roll derives its flavor from the flavorful meat and the dip . The dip looks like egg-drop soup and comes warm. Put some red sauce (not Spiracha) in it to jazz up the taste.

Catfish Clay Pot. I don't know if it's catfish they use or the more ubiquitous (at least in Vietnamese restaurants) Vietnamese mudfish, but the fish comes out quite tender and the clay pot creates a spicy, sweet and tasty caramelization on the fish.

I said there were three reasons to come. The third is a drink. On good days, the avocado shake is not too sweet and not too icy. Just perfect.


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