The posh new venture from Philippe Schmit (chef Dreamboat from Bistro Moderne) looks like a winner at first glance, what with its dramatic blacks and whites and crazy ceiling treatment that resembles a cancan dancer’s petticoats. The menu trends French (with a few touches of Italian, Mexican, and even Moroccan cuisines). Classic sherried onion soup had that rich broth that goes so well with a gooey Gruyère topping. The hit entrée had to be the Strewn Lamb, moist shank meat with couscous and a sauce sweetened with bits of pumpkin, apricot, and dates. Rice paper–wrapped salmon proved competent but bland. Happily, the apple turnover with caramel sauce atoned. Bar. 1800 Post Oak Blvd (713-439-1000). Lunch Mon–Fri 11–3, Sat noon–3. Dinner Mon–Thur 5:30–10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30–11:30. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. $$–$$$ W+



There’s a palpable buzz at the former Thai Tara site, where the principals are impressive: Zach Northcutt (from Mulberry) is behind the food, Bill Norris (formerly of Fino) is doing the drinks, and architect Michael Hsu is responsible for the jolly tavern-like space. Indeed, even Prince Charles might enjoy sipping a pint in the cozy, deliberately dowdy rooms. Dinner had high points (a selection of “toast pots,” meaning excellent mousses and pâtés) and low points (otherwise good duck meat loaf in a bizarrely sweet sauce). Brunch yielded a full British breakfast, with baked beans, a grilled tomato, French toast made from banana bread, and delicious house-made sausages with a bit of a kick. Bar. 601 W. 6th (512-992-0204). Lunch Mon–Fri 11–3. Dinner 7 days 5–11. Brunch Sat & Sun 11–3. $$ W+