Houston Press critic Katharine Shilcutt finds that Monica Pope's Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, a re-invention of her restaurant t'afia, is something of a mixed bag. While Shilcutt enjoys much of the food, she criticizes the restaurant for dim lighting and high prices. "The foundations of Sparrow itself are firm, but I don't believe they are fixed. And this is a good thing. Pope is nothing if not willing to reinvent herself and her restaurants. I believe that with a little tweaking here and there, Sparrow will soar: Turn the lights up a bit, make the menus more accessible both reading comprehension-wise and price-wise or, alternately, go heavier on the really mod stuff if the prices must stay in place so that diners feel they're really getting a good bang for their buck." [Houston Press]
Chronicle critic Alison Cook calls the barbecue shrimp at LA Bar, the upscale neighbor to Ragin' Cajun, one of the best dishes in the city, but she awards the restaurant no stars due to inconsistencies in the kitchen. "In the end, the food quality is so erratic here that I can't really give the place a star. The prices often seem far too steep for the level of cooking (something I've noticed at Ragin' Cajun, too.) Yet I like LA Bar for what it does well, and I'd cheerfully return to drink a beer, watch a Saints game and cherry-pick the menu for my favorites." [29-95]
The Leader Eater finds that the barbecue at the Sawyer street location of Dallas-based chain Dickey's Barbecue Pit compares reasonably well with memories of the restaurant's original location. "The green beans were decadently tasty sitting in a warm pool of oil but the fried okra was bang on – steaming hot batter, fresh and seed-filled and dusted with a seasoning that may or may not have been a version of creole seasoning. That tiny zest on top of the okra is the kind of clever companion to an age-old barbecue side dish that would have made Dickey's original proprietor proud. And the reason why a little bit of Dallas pit barbecue history still lives on in a Houston strip mall." [The Leader]
THE BLOGS: CultureMap's Sarah Rufca provides an overview of newly opened, East Asian oriented Nosh Bistro. Urban Swank finds that seafood chain Bonefish Grill offers good value. Hank on Food isn't worried about grade inflation; he awards an A+ to brunch at BRC Gastropub.