OUI EATS: INSIDE THE GALLERIA
5085 Westheimer Rd. #K125, Houston, TX 77056 | 832.940.2163 | www.ouieats.com
You may not know the Ly family by name, but if you know anything about good Vietnamese food in Houston, you probably know their restaurant, Les Givral’s. Their culinary empire has been steadily growing, with a Oui Banh Mi drive-thru in Montrose. Most recently, they opened their latest eatery, Oui Eats, in the Galleria shopping mall, adjacent to the first floor food court and ice-skating rink.
Oui Eats presents a more simplistic version of Les Givral’s larger menu, but, in my opinion, improves on those aspects while adding a layer of urban convenience. The kiosk-style diner has only a few tables, mostly operating as a counter service grab-and-go restaurant. Which, for the Galleria’s busy shoppers, is perfect. Wait times are almost nonexistent, but the food quality is outstanding. Bahn mis are always a solid choice, but usually have a reputation for being small, cheap snacks. The sandwiches at Oui Eats are on the heftier side, with fresh, well-prepared ingredients. Just one is enough for lunch. Of course, for those of us who just can’t help ourselves, an order of vermicelli is a no brainer. Long rice noodles on a bed of lettuce and sprouts, grated carrots, ground peanuts, your choice of meat and Vietnamese dipping sauce to pour over it all. Sure, one bowl is enough for a meal plus leftovers, and maybe you already had a sandwich, but damnit you only live once. Of course, you could always just come back for more the next day.
THE TIPPING POINT: HOTEL ZAZA MEMORIAL CITY
9787 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX 77024 | 713.986.9800 | www.hotelzaza.com/memorial-city/dining
Memorial City is making a solid argument as one of Houston’s most appealing and exciting neighborhoods. Last year I wrote about the reopening of Ciro’s Italian Grill, part of MetroNational’s massive development plans for the area. Ciro’s, which happens to be one of Houston’s best Italian kitchens, sits comfortably in the shadow of what has long been the crux of those plans. The second Houston location of the fascinating boutique hotel, ZaZa. The new Hotel ZaZa is bigger, bolder and shinier than its Museum District older sibling. As such, its lobby restaurant was designed to match its bold personality. The Tipping Point is part speakeasy, part culinary experience, all style.
Chef Jonathan Wicks designed his French and Southern-inspired menu to be hyper local, sourcing everything from his beef to his grits as close to home as possible. As a starter I would strongly advise one to order the Third Coast Campechana, Wick’s modern take on the classic Mexican seafood cocktail. This dish is a mountain of lump blue crab, Gulf shrimp, shaved radishes, cilantro and sliced serrano peppers, plated beautifully alongside a streak of avocado mousse. For a heartier entrée, consider the 8oz filet, atop of a bed of creamy Central Texas grits, and served beside one of the more creative uses of vegetables I have ever seen in a dish, a blood red beet molasses sauce that is both sweet and tangy.
One of the hotel’s proudest new additions is the bar at the Tipping Point. Sommelier Christopher Fleischman brings not only his love and knowledge of wine, but also his passion for craft cocktails and spirits. I was delighted by the house Old Fashioned: Bulleit rye, spiced syrup, angostura and orange bitters, poured over a glacier sized ice cube. With a menu and an ambiance as refined as this, The Tipping Point does more than match the boldness of the hotel – it elevates it.
THE MIDDLE SPOON
15911 City Walk, Sugar Land, TX 77478 | 281.491.0053 | www.themiddlespoon.com/houston-tx
Dessert and booze; the perfect pair. It’s a wonder why more bars don’t serve peach cobbler. And why won’t the corner bakery in my neighborhood mix me a mojito? Bad business if you ask me. At the Middle Spoon in Sugar Land Town Square, these kinds of requests are not met with weird looks nor refusals. It’s all part of the business model at the newly reopened desserterie and bar. The Sugar Land location is the first south of the border venture for this popular Canadian concept that mixes craft cocktails with decadent desserts and mouthwatering light fare.
The decor inside the MIddle Spoon matches the menu. Chic and a little flashy, while still comfortable, almost cozy. The dining room is half upscale living room, half trendy uptown bar. I would venture to say that the aesthetic is more aimed towards the fairer sex, but not so much that a guy can’t enjoy a whiskey drink with his cheesecake. Though I wouldn’t recommend this for a guys night, it’s a top choice for date night. The cocktail list at the Middle Spoon is as thoughtfully curated as the dessert menu. Fresh squeezed juices and infused syrups mix with top shelf spirits for drinks as enticing as the Convict: a bourbon cocktail with blueberry and lemon juice, fig syrup and cardamom bitters. Refreshing, bright, and soulful, it pairs perfectly with the incredibly decadent peanut butter pie. My second favorite pairing was the best-selling sticky toffee pudding with the impeccably complex, Germain Sour. Gin, elderflower liqueur, fresh lime, simple syrup, cucumber and egg white. A light and refreshing drink, perfect alongside the warm silky richness of the toffee pudding.
Not to be overlooked, the light fare at the Middle Spoon makes for a perfectly light and savory lunch. And while we’re on the subject of perfect pairs, the cheesy chicken, a panini grilled chicken and cheese sandwich, pairs outstandingly with a cup of tomato soup. And, hey, have a beer with that lunch. You deserve it.