Saturday, May 23, 2009

HOUSTON'S - Santa Monica

Houston’s is located on Wilshire & 2nd, 1 block from the vibrant Third Street Promenade. Downtown Santa Monica is a 30-block area of an amazing assortment entertainment, dining and retail options. The infamous Third Street Promenade buzzes with energy from sunrise to well past sunset. Santa Monica Beach and Santa Monica Pier (built in 1909 – the carousel was added in 1922) are a few blocks west of the Promenade.

After a several hours of walking around Santa Monica, my dear friends, Roberta & Richard, and I felt we had “earned” some beverages and a late lunch. We were immediately seated in Houston’s large 1st floor dining room with beautiful exposed brick walls, burnished brass, wood accents, high open ceiling and an open staircase taking you to the 2nd level with a sushi bar and more seating. The open 2nd level feels as if it is suspended over the very comfortable 1st floor dining room and bar. Houston’s features a menu of classics with a slight twist, focusing on local growers and high quality ingredients. I am generally not a fan of chain restaurants but Houston’s excels!

We started with grilled artichokes – these large split artichokes are first steamed then grilled over a hardwood fire. These smoky artichokes were exceptional by themselves with just a sprinkle of salt. The side condiment was a delicious remoulade of mayo, garlic, green onion, and red pepper flakes. We agreed… a fantastic combination!

For lunch, I selected the Thai Steak & Noodle Salad. This exciting salad explodes with flavor. The steak is marinated in a blend of soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, black pepper and canola oil. Split roma tomatoes, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, fresh mint and cilantro, avocado, roasted peanuts, mango, chilled poncit noodles, and a sprinkling of mixed greens are tossed in a spicy Thai dressing. The subtle heat from the salad dressing is the perfect compliment to the very tender slices of steak, avocado and mango. You can substitute rotisserie chicken for the beef. Poncit noodles (often made of rice) are similar to vermicelli noodles.

Houston’s scores major points with me for their “No cell phones in the dining room” policy clearly printed in their menu! I have found subtle signs requesting all cell phone conversation be finished before entering numerous retail & dining establishments across Southern California. I really enjoy not having to listen to someone’s one-sided conversation about a problem at work, last night’s bad date or a family argument.

Our server, Nikki, could not have been friendlier and more attentive. She knew the menu and when to come to our table & when to let us continue chatting. The staff, the food, the restaurant/bar guests – delicious!

Mmm, Mmm, Mmm…


$ 10
$$ 20
$$$ 30
$$$$ 40+

+ Stop bothering me!
++ Anyone here?
+++ Stopped when in the area.
++++ As needed and friendly.
+++++ Invisibly perfect!

✦ “One visit too many!”
✦✦ “Convince me!”
✦✦✦ “I’ll be back!”
✦✦✦✦ “Same table next week!”

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