Houston has another hot spot courtesy of the guys from Ibiza. The crowds are flocking to this new restaurant named after the River Oaks area zip code in which it is located in the former Tony Mandola’s seafood restaurant on West Gray. Other than opening up the bar area and bathing everything in a contemporary white, the restaurant’s layout is the same as its predecessor. Better head to Paris (or maybe Brasserie Max & Julie’s) if you want old style French surroundings. The noise level was over the top, perhaps the worst of any Houston restaurant we’ve recently experienced.
No surly waiters here. We’d heard the service was shaky, but we couldn’t fault a thing on a recent Friday evening. The wine list, presented on an iPad, was both intriguing and functional. It was easy to scroll through the many bottles (organized by type) and by the glass offerrings. The owners are known for their reasonable wine prices and, while we didn’t thoroughly investigate the list, we found some inconsistencies in that theme, particularly in the wine by the glass pricing. No surprise there since many restaurants significantly mark up wines by the glass. We found a very fairly priced bottle of Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, “touched” our order, and the bottle appeared at our table with the appropriate glasses.
Food comes quickly, so be mindful when timing your order. We’d read that portion size was small, but we didn’t feel that way. If you want bread, you need to ask for it. And the crunchy individual baguettes, served with a ramekin of butter sprinkled with sea salt, are worth the request. We shared an appetizer of steak tartare. The meat was of the highest quality and beautifully chopped; all the traditional familiar flavors were there, including a raw quail egg on top, although the dish had slightly too much pepper. For entrees, we had the roasted duck and Texas rabbit. The duck (breast and leg quarter) was nicely sauced and plated; unfortunately, the leg quarter was way underdone and required two trips back to the kitchen, which the waiter quickly and graciously accommodated. The rabbit was delicious. The dessert menu had a number of appealing items; unfortunately, we were too full to try one.
Reservations are a must, at least on weekends.
1962 West Gray