Our hearts fluttered as we entered. Loud music pierced through our ears that seemed to increase in intensity as we drew closer. We stood in shock as we noticed chairs flung as high as the ceiling; that clearly no man could reach. Blood stained sofas adorned most walls and somehow the chairs in the center of the room remained untouched. In tandem and under our breathes, we whispered…”We are at The Bird and the Bear baby”! Yes we know, it sounds like a crime scene doesn’t it? Let us give you the “real deal Holyfield”.

On the evening of our second visit, The Bird and The Bear offered a wonderful two-person band. We couldn’t tell you what they were playing, but it definitely set a nice vibe for the room. The white vs. red scheme played well, and the subtle variations of black and silver gave the room a bit of pizzazz. The chairs and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling brought the decor together nicely and provided a serious “wow” factor. At The Bird and The Bear, the ambiance is fairly laid back and depending on which night you visit, it can vary. We visited on both a Sunday and a Thursday; they were like night and day.

Our Sunday visit was a typical night out with the girls. Hey, when you are trying a spot out for the first time the more the merrier, right? You can try more things and get an opinion from someone aside from yourself. We felt welcomed as we were seated at our large reserved table (the sign was even cute!). With the great cuisine and equally great time we’ve had at our other fave, Ousie’s Table, we were certain Owner/Restaurateur Elouise “Ouisie” Jones would not steer us wrong. Similar to Ousie’s Table, The Bird and The Bear (2810 Westheimer) sets southern cuisine as the foundation. We have always had an appreciation for southern dishes that are kicked up a notch by offering something fresh and new.

To start the night, a few of us tried Ouisie’s Gulf Coast Seafood Gumbo. With roux as flavorful as this, you can’t go wrong. Riding the line between savory and rich, the roux is the focus of any great gumbo. In addition to the roux, the ingredients immersed in this wonderful concoction must not straggle too far behind. We found the seafood and veggies to be plentiful, which rounded off this tasty dish. Being “for life” fans of the wedge salad, this was the next choice. The Tres Wedgies “salad” comes with three small individual lettuce cups that are each filled with something different. One is filled with blue cheese dressing and bacon, the second with spicy shallot vinaigrette and sliced avocado, and the third with cilantro, ranch dressing and pico de gallo. Talk about a trio! Each was distinctly unique, and although we enjoyed them all, the traditional blue cheese rocked! Those crispy pieces of bacon and the sharp bitterness of the blue cheese sealed the deal; as it always has and always will. Fans of the wedge salad…please stand up!

The main entree is always the hardest part of the meal to decide on. There were so many great things on the menu; many we will be going back to try. For dinner we ordered the Grilled Beef Tenderloin (with a filled zucchini “boat” and three cheese macaroni) and the Braised Pork Osso buco (with saffron risotto and sautéed mushrooms). I (Urban Girl) will state for the record…I have not had good luck with ordering Beef Tenderloin. I typically stick with other cuts that tend to be more tender. Therefore, I will not blame my “okay” feedback of the tenderloin on The Bird and The Bear. I figured I would have a stab at the dish to see if I could be swayed. Note to self: Stop ordering this when you eat out! I just don’t care for it, I guess. However, it had a great flavor and the three cheese macaroni was fabulous. The braised Pork Osso Buco was everything the Beef Tenderloin was not; can you say “Osso-mazing”! A slow cooking process (braising), which is usually the method used when making pork Osso Buco (veal Osso Buco is another popular version), was apparent from the tenderness of the meat. The Saffron Risotto was the perfect partner to the pork. Its strong spicy flavor kissed my lips and took me (Swanky Girl) on an unforgettable journey. NO, I will not tell you where I went but I will say I had a great time.
On the next visit, we started with the same; the Ouisie’s Gulf Coast Seafood Gumbo. However, for the main course and being in the mood for pasta, the Cream Spinach Ravioli (raviolis filled with cream spinach and white wine cream sauce) was selected. As we received the plate, we immediately noticed the small portion. I know we all have a tendency to think with our head and not our stomach, but I wanted more of this stuff! Creamed spinach has to be one of the best side dishes of all time, so slide a bit of that creamy treat in between tender pasta and see how you feel afterwards. We would take a gander that you would feel pretty good; and let’s not mention the cream sauce…”forget about it” (in our Italian voices). On the other hand, the Foie Gras Ravioli were large and in charge!  As we compared the two plates of ravioli’s it was kind of funny looking at the difference in size. Take a look at our pictures and you can see for yourself! This was a daily special and we thought it was just okay. We think the ravioli’s were over stuffed and they reminded us of dumplings; instead of ravioli’s. Would we order this again?; probably not, but we are glad we tried it.

We ordered several drinks; most of them martinis of some sort. We enjoyed their take on the oldies but goodies and were especially fond of those more creative in nature. For dessert, the waiter brought the wow…the tray with a dozen or so desserts all tempting you simultaneously (a clear and well thought out marketing scheme). Sticking with the love for chocolate we went full steam ahead with the Banana Chocolate Cake. Similar to the look of a traditional mousse cake, this rendition could fill the desires of both chocolate and banana lovers. Seconds please. In addition, we ordered the Chocolate Pot de Crème. This is a small “espresso cup” filled to the rim with pure chocolate, topped with cocoa powder and fresh cream. Our stomachs were smiling wishing for seconds, but our asses were saying, “Get off me and start working off that crème NOW”.

A few other dishes we recommend are the Divine Wild Mushroom Pasta (Crimini, Shiitake, Oysters and Chanterelles in a white wine cream sauce over angel hair), and The Damn Eggplant (with shrimp, crabmeat & oysters in a spicy brandied sauce with wild rice and shallots). The name of the eggplant dish is reason enough to give it a spin. Being glad that we had not actually stepped foot in a crime scene was not the only thing we were thankful for. We were thankful to have found another great place in which we can share great food, drinks and experiences. FYI…if you are calling 911, you can hang the phone up now. There was really no blood on the sofas!

The Urban Swank Girls

January 25, 2012


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