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What's New And Trending In Houston's Dining Scene

By Robin Barr Sussman | December 17, 2019 | Food & Drink

UchikoBanana_Cake_03Photo_Credit_Travis_HallmarkSeptember_19.jpgUchiko’s melt-in-your-mouth banana cake

Famed Austin chef Tyson Cole is expanding his Japanese farmhouse concept, Uchiko (1801 Post Oak Blvd.), to the new Zadok Jewelers-owned mixed-use development in Houston in 2021. Expect a more casual-chic spot than his Uchi with a menu featuring raw fish, yakitori, wood-fired specialties, and a full bar with Asian cocktails and Japanese whiskies. ... Mutiny Wine Room (1124 Usener St.) by Houstonians Emily Trout and Mark Ellenberger, married owners of Kagan winery in Napa, will bow any day now in the Heights. The breezy space has a farmhouse-chic wine country vibe with lofty exposed wood beam ceilings, twinkling lights, rustic communal tables, tasting bars and lounge-y nooks. Global boutique wines, including award-winning Kagan, are spotlighted with wine-friendly dishes designed for pairing. Expect a party room and patio. ... Kau Ba Vietnamese (2502 Dunlavy St., 713.497.5300) by celeb chef Nikki Tran has a new look and menu. Tran, known for cameos on popular food programs like Netflix’s Ugly Delicious, has a commitment to the freshest ingredients, minimal white sugar and no MSG, with a long roster of updated “Viet-Cajun” dishes. Newcomers include crudos; a Saigon Surprise pork chop with fried egg; Vietnamese pizza; and duck salad with pear, peanuts, fried garlic and toasted rice.

IMG4784.jpgEnjoy your martini 43 stories above Downtown at Strato 550.

Power lunch alert: Strato 550 (1415 Louisiana St., 832.280.8977) sits 550 feet in the air on the 43rd floor of the former Wedge International Tower, and its light-filled rooms sport stunning city views. Chef Evan Parker, recently with Tiny’s No. 5, crafts elevated Mediterranean dishes, including market fish with saffron risotto and pancetta; Berkshire pork chop with crispy cauliflower and pistachio mostardo; and butternut squash-mushroom soup with pomegranate. Small bites like lamb sliders with signature cocktails are a sky-high option for cocktail hour. ... The latest entry in Houston’s dim sum craze is One Dim Sum (510 Gray St., 346.293.9188) in Midtown. The Chinese bistro offers a menu of bite-sized beauties, both traditional and inventive, including crispy prawn cheung fun (steamed rice rolls) and dumplings stuffed with caviar and chanterelle mushrooms. There’s a full list of stir-fries and a two-course Peking duck feast.

Safina_View_2.jpgSafina celebrates the Mediterranean’s history of mercantilism in its decor.

Sweet fresh corn ravioli, shrimp Provençal with chargrilled black pepper bread, and lamb chops with mint yogurt and tabbouleh headline the Mediterranean menu at Safina (6750 Main St., 713.422.2779) in the still-new InterContinental Hotel Houston Medical Center. Lunch on wellness-driven pea shoots and carrots with bulgur and currant vinaigrette, or arugula and citrus salad, in an elegantly serene space awash in blue and green sea tones. “Safina means ‘small boat’ or ‘refuge,’ and that’s what we intend for our guests,” says veteran general manager Menno Ozinga, formerly with Brenner’s on the Bayou and Emmaline. ... The Kitchen at The Dunlavy (3422 Allen Parkway, 713.360.6477) has new menus created by chef Jane Wild with local, seasonal produce. Zucchini noodles with almond pesto; whole grains and agrodolce vinaigrette; and ricotta pancakes with lemon butter and blueberry jus are a few temptations.

Photography by: From top: Travis Hallmark; Kirsten Gilliam; courtesy of InterContinental Houston - Medical Center