New + Noteworthy

New + Noteworthy
Photograph by Debora Smail

The Bird & the Bear

Houston

Handsome balances quirky at this new spot from restaurateur Elouise “Ouisie” Jones, what with crystal chandeliers and chairs hanging from the ceiling against a sleek black, white, and red background. Our meal also proved a bit mixed. Inspiring strong desires to return were a fine beef shank tagine with caramelized prunes and apricots, cornmeal-battered Gulf oysters, and a trio of butter lettuce cups (Tres Wedgies!): one with a blue cheese dressing and bacon, one with spicy shallot vinaigrette and avocado, and one with ranch dressing and pico. But we felt let down by a flavorless seafood paella and a dry wild mushroom pasta. Bar. 2810 Westheimer Rd (713-528-2473). Open Mon–Wed 11–10, Thur–Sat 11–1 a.m., Sun 10–10. Reservations recommended. $$–$$$ W+

Bistro 31

Dallas

Don’t delay checking out the newest offering from serial restaurant maven Alberto Lombardi. A lovely lunch brought us chef Eric Brandt’s torchio pasta, shaped like the base of a teeny torch, with Dungeness crab, fresh peas, and a stroke-of-genius touch of lemon confit, which gave a bright burst of flavor to the whole dish. Roasted trumpet mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce made a delightful side. For dessert, a slice of orange ricotta cheesecake with a crispy brûlée top and blueberry compote left us quite contented. No doubt the food, and the appealing alfresco space, will make this a destination spot. Service, alas, is hit-and-miss. Bar. 87 Highland Park Village, Mockingbird Ln at Preston Rd (214-420-3900). Open Mon–Thur 8 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri 8–midnight, Sat 9–midnight, Sun 9–10. $$–$$$ W+

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