RDG + Bar Annie

Houston Has the move rejuved chef Robert Del Grande’s Cafe Annie? Seems to have. The name change has helped too, as has the striking new structure. We considered checking out the more casual, less expensive dining areas in Bar Annie or the BLVD Lounge, but feeling celebratory, we went straight for the classy upstairs RDG Grill Room. It’s a contemporary space with rustic redwood trim, ornate mirrors, and an open kitchen. The expansive menu lists both new and classic offerings, each date-stamped (which had us squealing, “Oh, we had that on our anniversary!”). Taking the dates as a guide, we tried both some old favorites, such as the wild mushroom soup with smoked duck, and some great new dishes, including a wood-grilled New York strip (a very fine chunk of meat paired with oddly bland bacon-wrapped fingerling potatoes) and a fab starter of seared avocado with little bitty cubes of queso fresco and nibbles of fresh radish. Bar. 1800 Post Oak Blvd, at Ambassador Way (713-840-1111). Lunch Mon—Fri 11:30—2. Dinner Mon—Sat 6—10, Sun 5—9. Reservations recommended. $$$$ W+


Dallas Red air-conditioning ductwork and doors, white lanterns, wood floors, colorful photos of Marfa—somehow it all comes together in a mid-century modern space that’s packing them in from early to late. Chef and co-owner Marc Cassel has the new “it” restaurant, much as he did when he was the jefe at the late, lamented Green Room. Park’s menu, if less charged with culinary excitement than the GR’s, is more accessible, running to American classics with eclectic Mexican and Mediterranean dishes thrown in for good measure. An appetizer of grilled green onions, nicely charred, came out wrapped in newspaper with a spicy romesco dipping sauce of roasted bell peppers and almonds. Hanger steak, fork-tender and chunky, was served with an unbalanced chimichurri that we ditched for the much better garlic aioli. For dessert we tried an interesting brioche with peaches and a crumbled oat topping; when we return we’ll have the ginger-spiked carrot cake the next table raved about. Bar. 1921 Henderson Ave (214-824-3343). Dinner Sun & Tue—Thur 6—10, Fri & Sat 6—11. Closed Mon. $$ W+