Restaurant Critic Roundup: New York Times Critic Pete Wells Travels To Houston

This week in restaurant reviews, Los Angeles Times critic Jonathan Gold visits Chi Spacca, "the new meat-intensive restaurant room in Mozza's Italian-cuisine complex on Melrose." He does note that his visit did not go unnoticed (the restaurant is overseen by a close family friend), adding "so feel free to discount anything I have to say about this place."

Near Washington, D.C., The Bungalow Lakehouse in Sterling, Va., has "a ways to go," according to critic Candy Sagon. The "almost worth a drive" restaurant has potential, "depending on what you order," and "at the very least, it's a terrific place to sip a glass of shiraz, munch a flatbread pizza topped with house-made spicy lamb sausage, and feel grateful to find a spot other than a big, bland national chain in this NoVa suburb."

The New York Daily News takes a visit to The Union Square Café on the eve of its 30th birthday, and leaves thoroughly unimpressed. Critic Michael Kaminer is turned off by the "uninspired menu, mediocre components and tepid flavors," and deems it's "more haggard than happening."

The New York Times critis Pete Wells hit the road this week, and wrote about two great new restaurants in Houston, "cosmopolitan" Oxheart and "parochial" Underbelly. He's particularly fond of Oxheart's turkey, and writes that the restaurant is "taking part in a worldwide conversation about cooking and fine dining." And at Underbelly, chef/owner Chris Shepherd "tells the story of Houston food," taking influence from both the deep South and Asia. 

In San Francisco, Michael Bauer dropped in on Saison, the Bay Area's most expensive and exclusive restaurant. He loves the food, but is "perplexed" by the juxtaposition of high-end and casual. 

The Boston Globe's Michael Andor Brodeur checks out a few burger joints in the city, and is particularly fond of Tasty Burger and its onion rings. 

In Charleston, S.C., Erik Doksa loves Mex 1 Coastal Cantina in West Ashley, and writes that it "feels very SoCal and would be right at home in Baja."

And in Denver, William Porter drops into Old Major, a "contemporary farmhouse"-style restaurant, and was very impressed by chef/owner Justin Brunson's nose-to-tail offerings. 

As always, the ratings range from stars to bells to beans, but every review offers specialized insight into the food, atmosphere, and service of eateries in each city's dining scene and the critics eating at them.

Restaurant Critic Roundup: 4/10/2013

Critic Publication Restaurant Rating
Michael  Brodeur Boston Globe Tasty Burger  
Michael Kaminer New York Daily News Union Square Café 2 stars
Richard Vines Bloomberg Midsummer House 3 stars
Pete Wells The New York Times Oxheart, Underbelly  
Jonathan Gold Los Angeles Times Chi Spacca  
Brad A. Johnson Orange County Register Ramos House 2.5 stars
Michael Bauer San Francisco Chronicle Saison  
Candy Sagon Washington Post The Bungalow Lakehouse 1 star
Erik Doksa Charleston City Paper Mex 1 4 stars
William Porter Denver Post Old Major 3.5 stars


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Tyler Sullivan is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter at @atylersullivan