New and Noteworthy
Cat City Grill, Fort Worth and Yelapa Playa Mexicana, Houston
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Cat City Grill
Fort Worth Ah, Magnolia Avenue. Who would have dreamed five years ago that today it would be Fort Worth’s new restaurant row? The latest addition is Cat City, in a beautifully redone historic building, where stark black accents make a stylish backdrop for chefs Vance Martin and Martin Thompson’s crowd-pleasing menu. Asparagus tempura with wasabi sauce was a real treat, while a layered spinach salad was a festival all by itself, with mandarin orange, dried cherries, pine nuts, bacon, Gorgonzola, and wontons. Either the meat loaf with wild mushroom ragù or the Texas Steak (read: chicken-fried) with cream gravy should satisfy any carnivore. The flourless chocolate torte with praline topping is not to be believed. Bar (opens at 4). 1208 W. Magnolia Ave (817-916-5333). Lunch Mon—Fri 11—2:30. Dinner Mon—Thur 5:30—9, Fri & Sat 5:30—10. Closed Sun. $$ W+
Yelapa Playa Mexicana
Houston Chef L. J. Wiley is doing Mexican food every which way but Tex-Mex at this exuberant fusion spot. Yelapa offers a series of tropical-hued rooms outfitted with leather furniture and a menu concentrating on Pacific Coast fare (with Peruvian and Asian notions thrown in for good measure). We tried a shot of roasted-garlic velouté with piquillo pepper coulis and wished we had ordered a bowl. But then we might have missed the cucumber gazpacho with smoked mussels and a nice rendition of guacamole imaginatively brightened with cinnamon and mango. Our slow-broiled salmon filet was grand, served with cauliflower risotto, but the Whole Enchilada proved too much of a less-than-great thing: The potentially exciting combo of Akaushi skirt steak, mole, and sour cream was knocked for a loop by chewy meat and congealed cheese. Bar. 2303 Richmond Ave (281-501-0391). Open Mon—Wed 11—10, Thur—Sat 11—11. Closed Sun. Reservations accepted. $$ W+