Nara [Max Burkhalter]
The Chronicle's Alison Cook gives Nara one star: Cook writes that if everything on the menu were as good as chef Donald Chang's beef tartare, the "contemporary Korean-Japanese fusion restaurant would be one of the best in the city. Instead, it is a glamorous conundrum: beautiful, pricey and uneven, its soaring moments undercut by too many that are earthbound, derivative or simply puzzling." She calls the sushi an "insurance policy: a hedge against diners' possible resistance to the contemporary Korean aspect of the menu." Of the décor, Cook says that the elegant interior's "sense of occasion makes the prices more bearable."
The Houston Press' Kaitlin Steinberg reviews Osteria Mazzantini: She praises John Sheely's almost six-month-old restaurant for "already operating like an old fixture" with "just some hiccups." Steinberg says that although she's "not a steak person," she found herself "already planning a return trip" just a few bites into a strip loin. The Galleria-area place only seems to miss with the sweetbreads and kale ravioli, which she says is coated with too much brown butter sauce.
More reviews: H-Town Chown Down's guest writer offers a less-than-favorable review of critically acclaimed Oxheart. The writer's wife and dining partner called it a "glorified Souper Salad" and compared one of the courses to a dish from Olive Garden. Chef/owner Justin Yu responded on Twitter, saying that "everyone has preferences and I don't think I cook in a way to meet his." Another take on that restaurant comes courtesy of Houston Fed. Urban Swank's Joanna O'Leary heads to NAM: Noodles & More, where she has " solid albeit not particularly inventive" starters and recommends the noodle soups, but writes that the "fluorescent lighting and plastic tables don't do much in terms of atmosphere." Hank on Food heads to Three Brother Bakery's newest location on Washington, where he samples the new cake parfait station and chats with some of the owners.