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Rebecca’s Table, Fredericksburg and So Vino Wine Bar & Bistro, Houston
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Fredericksburg It’s not often that a pastry chef opens a full-fledged restaurant, but Fredericksburg baker Rebecca Rather has taken her act up the road—specifically, a few blocks west of her Rather Sweet Bakery. Her new venture, Rebecca’s Table, opened for dinner at the end of November, and judging by the crowds, the modishly casual place (teal-green floors!) has filled a niche in the informal-but-nice dining category of this small Central Texas town. The menu just plain sounds good. For starters, she’s got crispy oyster nachos with pico and cilantro crema (inspired by Jeffrey’s in Austin, whose former chef David Garrido is a pal). Another good appetizer is the roasted-beet salad with goat cheese and pecans. Entrées include a pesto-crusted fish of the day and a petite filet mignon with chimichurri sauce. Instantly popular were her sliders made with Texas-raised Akaushi beef (a breed of Japanese cattle related to Wagyu); people can’t get enough of those fabulous mini-burgers on brioche buns. Bar. 342 W. Main at Milam (830-997-5100). Dinner Tue–Thur 5:30–9, Fri & Sat 5:30–10. Closed Sun & Mon. $$ W+
So Vino Wine Bar & Bistro
Houston So Vino’s menu is a “greatest hits” roster of the past decade. There’s hardly anything that most people won’t like, and wild experimentation is out-of-bounds. Already popular, this bistro is helping colonize the gradually gentrifying part of lower Westheimer (Dolce Vita and Indika are across the street). As you would guess from the name, the restaurant divides its attention equally between tippling and nibbling. The wine list emphasizes vintages from the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Australia, New Zealand), with Europe and America given good cameo roles; happily, many offerings are in the $30 to $50 range. Wine-friendly appetizers have a small presence, including cheese and charcuterie boards, house-cured salmon, and a cognac-duck pâté. But people who decide to linger on for dinner will find many appealing starters to round out that opening snack (one good one is beef carpaccio with a lush buttermilk-Gorgonzola spread; another is a salad with earthy roasted beets and goat cheese). Serious diners can go for some of the best short ribs in the city (braised in Shiraz and served with Gruyère polenta), not to mention an acceptable tenderloin in an interesting cabernet and fig reduction. One last thing: The cheesecake sounds boring but is fantastic. Beer & wine. 507 Westheimer Rd (713-524-1000). Dinner Mon–Wed 5–midnight, Thur–Sat 5–1 a.m. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. $$$ W+