Monthly Archives: June 2015

Weights + Measures

Brought to Midtown by the 13 Celsius folks (also of Mongoose versus Cobra), very recently opened Weights and Measures includes a restaurant, bar (Love & Squalor), and a bake shop.  Both the restaurant and the bar are pretty good sized and, while the bar seems to fill up quickly, at least there’s somewhere to wait as reservations are not taken.  The ambiance is relaxed and casual, with an open kitchen.  Open throughout the day, starting with breakfast through dinner, followed by a late night bar menu served until 2:00 am, this is an ambitious undertaking, although, from all appearances, it seems to be working out of the gate.

In the vein of Coltivare  (and, to some degree Provisions and Pax Americana), Weights and Measures has artisanal cocktails, “breads”, small plates, salads, pizza and entrees, with interesting twists on seasonal ingredients.  Price points are also similar, in the middle range.  The cocktails are as good as any in town.  We both liked the ones we tried on our first visit so much – the smallish room (bourbon, lime, maple) and senor punche (tequila, lime and something pink) – that we ordered them again the next time.

We’ve tried a number of the starters — chopped chicken liver, pig trotter terrine, baccala brandade, ribeye meatballs, relish plate, and grilled romaine.  The chopped chicken liver included diced boiled egg and lacked the depth of other versions around town.  Similarly, the baccala brandade (salted cod spread) could have used more seasoning.  The pig trotter terrine (gelatinous bits of the pigs foot shaped in a patty, covered in bread crumbs and fried) had good taste although at least one of us was a little put off by the texture.  The meatballs are an excellent version of a  basic dish and, judging by looking around at nearby tables, are a popular starter.  The relish plate — olives, celery, carrots, bread and a savory bagna cauda dip (warm olive oil with strong notes of garlic and anchovy) — was a light start and very sharable.  The grilled romaine represented the restaurant’s twist on a caesar salad, served with a preserved lemon dressing and white anchovies.  (Enjoyable but not quite as good as the very similar salad at Provisions.)

We can’t pass up pizza but weren’t quite up for the roasted carrot and cheddar version (although it’s gotten great reviews from others), so we went for the basics — pepperoni topped with arugula. We aren’t huge fans of salad on top of pizza, but the light sprinkling of leaves worked well, and the pizza was very good.  If we had to rate them, we’d probably score this version a little higher than the same pizza at Coltivare.

For entrees, a number of folks at our table tried the seared Ahi tuna special.  The large serving of beautifully fresh tuna was appropriately cooked (with everyone challenging the kitchen with a different degree of preferred doneness) but, lacking a sauce or much seasoning, it wasn’t quite as strong a dish as the quality of the tuna deserved.  On the other hand, the Wagyu flat iron steak was fabulous.

For dessert, we ordered the doughknots (fried dough rolls, not sufficiently sweet for our taste) and the bittersweet chocolate cremeaux (a pudding-mousse creation that was very good, with just the right level of sweetness).  To go from the bake shop, we left with brownies and cookies that capably satisfied our sweet tooth the next day.

There’s a large parking lot (no valet), although it fills up quickly with the restaurant’s current popularity.  Ample street parking is accessible in the surrounding area.

2808 Caroline (at Dennis)                                                                                                      713/654-1970                                                                                                       

BCN Taste & Tradition

We’ve not been keeping up with our postings, and we are way over due writing about this recently opened restaurant.  We’ve now been twice, including Valentine’s Day, and we’ve been very impressed.  We were somewhat reluctant to go on Valentine’s Day, particularly as it was a Saturday night, and were dubious about the phone reservationist’s assurance that the chef would have his full menu and not a fixed course and price menu.  Sure enough, while the menu may not have been absolutely every item, it was darn close.  And the quality and service were very impressive for such a busy holiday.  We weren’t rushed and the food was as good as our prior visit.

The chef who hails from Barcelona (with great Spanish cooking cred) cleverly borrowed the Barcelona airport designation in naming this new restaurant.  A lovely contemporary environment sets the stage for this small, ambitious, upscale restaurant serving what we’ve dubbed “contemporary continental” cuisine, although the restaurant’s description is “traditional and modern Spanish cuisine.”   Like most restaurants in Houston nowadays, all manner of attire is seen, but dressing up a little would not be out of place here.  Our reservations were honored right on time; however, as we were leaving, we heard some grumbling in the bar area (which is quite small) that folks with reservations had been waiting quite awhile to be seated.

Complimentary olives and bread set the stage.  For Valentine’s Day, we tried two of the gin and tonic specialty cocktails.  They were refreshing and delicious, particularly the one with rosemary.

For starters, we tried the salted anchovies (both visits) and the mussels.  We can’t get enough of the anchovies — a standout dish, briney and swimming in olive oil, the little filets were delicious topping toasted bread that was very lightly smeared with tomato (Having visited Barcelona a couple months ago, we can atest that the toasted tomato bread is served with many dishes.)  The mussels were very fresh, served in a light cream-based broth with hints (perhaps a little too subtle for our taste) of leeks and Iberico ham. On our second visit, we tried the Iberico ham starter (also served with the toasted tomato bread), and it was delicious.  We shared the roasted vegetable and goat cheese salad which was quite pleasant but not exceptional.   We enjoyed the poached cod with saffron aioli gratin and fresh vegetable ratatouille.  Our second entree — stewed pork cheeks (with prawns and artichokes) — was appropriately tender, but we were seeking perhaps a little more depth to the sauce.   We concede only remembering we had a fish entree on Valentine’s day, and it was very good. 

This is a great addition to the Houston restaurant scene, one of our new favorites. Prices are on the high side but not over the top or unreasonable.  Given the location, complimentary valet parking is a must (access off Roseland). 

4210 Roseland Street (near the intersection of Montrose and Richmond)
(832) 834-3411