New and Noteworthy
Monarch, Houston and Sangría Tapas y Bar, Dallas.
HoustonGiven Hotel ZaZa’s innuendo-laden marketing scheme—the Web site features doe-eyed women, stalwart men, and social anthropologist Mae West’s pithy quote “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful”—you halfway expect the restaurant to be serving aphrodisiacs. But despite the dining room’s black walls, leopard-patterned carpet, and aura of campy sensuality, chef Bradley Manchester’s menu is approved for all audiences (well, those oysters on the half shell with Tabasco mignonette might deserve an R rating). We quite liked lunchtime soups such as the robust tomato bisque and a refreshingly unsludgy black bean with tidbits of smoked beef tenderloin. At dinner, spinach salad came topped with filo-wrapped goat cheese, and hefty prawns were gently braised in olive oil for maximum tenderness; sun-dried-tomato ravioli rounded out the plate. A terrific Angus beef filet was the evening’s high point. In fact, our only complaint was the bland side dish of truffled mac and cheese. Bar. Hotel ZaZa, 5701 Main (713-527-1800). Breakfast 7 days 6:30—11. Lunch Mon—Fri 11—2. Dinner 7 days 5—11. Brunch Sat & Sun 11—3. Reservations recommended. $$—$$$$ W+
Sangría Tapas y Bar
Dallas By now, most people have stumbled across the fact that the word “tapa” means “lid” or “cover” in Spain and that it originally referred to a piece of bread placed on top of a glass of sherry in order to keep omnipresent flies from committing suicide by cocktail. Well, there ain’t no flies at Sangría, Dallas’s popular new blue-and-white-tiled tapas bar. There is, however, a tremendously appealing menu of Spanish-inspired nibbles, which are perfect for buffering the house sangria, both white and red. Portuguese sardines demand an appreciation for robust flavors, which is why we loved them; ditto the bacon-wrapped medjool dates filled with almonds and Cabrales blue cheese. Our luck ran out with the mushy croquettes of chicken and serrano ham, but a chunky, nicely browned Spanish potato-and-egg tortilla was right on the money. Bar. 4524 Cole (214-540-4863). Open Mon—Thur 11—11, Fri & Sat 11—midnight, Sun 11—10. $$—$$$ W+