Date of visit: 01/03/2009

Location: Houston

Happy New Year, and here’s to delicious eating! This year we’ve decided to taste all the restaurants in Houston that we’ve always wanted to try but put off in favor of our tried and true standbys. Going out can be a scary thing when you don’t know what you might get, but after 7 years in this city (well, I guess 4 as a poor college student don’t count) it’s about time!

We walked by Glass Wall this year during Lights in the Heights and my boss has always raved about the food there so we decided it was a safe place to start. The restaurant has an interesting surf/ocean theme and the front wall facing the street is completely glass. A very interesting concept – I love that you can walk past and look in, from bar to restaurant, to service, to bustling kitchen. We were able to call ahead and make reservations the same night, giving us a couple of hours to get pretty before going out.

Service was attentive and friendly. I started with the soup of the day, grilled shrimp in saffron broth, and he tried the duck gyoza, which were excellent – highly recommended. The soup broth and vegetables were so flavorful and savory that the shrimp was absolutely unnecessary and almost overpowered the delicate broth. It was one of two flaws in the meal – excellent flavors that were paired erroneously. The other flaw was dull bread. A restaurant with bread lacking in taste makes me a sad puppy!

We noticed during the course of our meal that several diners took the libery of taking their dessert or entire meal onto the small patio in the front of the restaurant. It looked like a fun place to dine and people-watch. A frosted glass wall (heh) separates the bar from the rest of the restaurant, effectively blocking sound and giving the restaurant a more intimate atmosphere while allowing the bar to show the football game.

For a main, Matt tried the short ribs, cooked to falling apart awesomeness, and paired with one of the most delicious reds we’ve ever tasted. The “wine dude” at glass wall is excellent! The only issue was that he didn’t know what to do with the sweet apple butter paired with his ribs; although it tasted great, the ribs already had a sweet cider flavor.

I took a risk and ordered the duck breast. I am perpetually disappointed by duck everywhere because I grew up eating duck roasted in the Chinese style and am always unhappy when duck is served rarer and fattier than I am used to. But the accompaniments (pancetta and roast figs, cabbage, potatoes) sounded so intruiging, and I was not disappointed. The duck was perfectly cooked, and the pancetta and fig bits complemented it wonderfully. No flavor issues here!

Many people seemed to be ordering the hanger steak, and watching the fries being prepared in the kitchen made my mouth water. Next time…

For dessert we ordered banana beignets, which were charmingly presented in a tiny paper bag with a shot glass of chocolate milk and squirt bottle of chocolate sauce. The only downside is that I could have eaten at least 5 beignets and there were only 3. Sad!

Recommended: Duck gyoza, Duck breast, Short ribs, Beignets, wine pairings.

Price: $116 for two with 2 glasses of wine and tip

Rating: 4.5/5 bacon slices for value, fun, proximity to home, and delicious food. Overall, great quality and atmosphere.