State of Grace
Still as buzzy as on opening day, this River Oaks hot spot has good looks, plenty of space, and a Gulf-Coast-meets-modern-Texas menu. Shareable entrées like the tender duck carnitas for two, with mole and warm bacon-fat tortillas, are popular for supper, and the premium oysters ($1 at happy hour in the Oyster Room) bring in the bivalve crowd. We started with a trendy salad of raw shaved vegetables with anchovy vinaigrette, fried capers, and croutons. We felt virtuous eating it, but it didn’t move us the way executive chef Bobby Matos’s homemade pastas do. Large, pillowy ravioli stuffed with mushrooms, creamy Taleggio cheese, and ground black pepper were swoon-worthy, sprinkled with mellow Parmesan and roasted mushrooms. Another find was the humble-sounding “Good Breed” Chicken: a tender half chicken grilled, accented with grilled lemon, and served resting on potato puree (or was that melted butter with a little mashed potato?); its supporting player of wilted greens added some bite. Our tuna entrée shone with freshness and a perfect sear, but the accoutrements of shaved fennel and charred onions didn’t add much. The large space gets noisy, so reserve ahead for a table in the chic and intimate curtained-off room.