Monday, March 27, 2006


He: T'afia (3701 Travis, Houston, TX) is a study in pretensions. It begins with the name, that I find difficult to remember. According to the menu it is something like a toast with several meanings in some obscure language that I can't recall. The waiter had to explain the menu. It was so hip that the food items were sorted by price rather than function. They take great pains to inform guests that everything on the menu is organic and from local Texas family farms. There is nothing wrong with this, but I find it irritating to be lectured on it at length while trying to decipher an intentionally cryptic menu.

Clearly I never fully figured the menu out. I got a soup ($6) and what I thought was a main course ($20). The beet and carrot soup was excellent. It was a pureed but not creamy and a little spicy. To my relief it showed up on a normal plate and it came with a normal spoon. The main course was also excellent, but it wasn't a main course. I ordered the halibut and that is exactly what I got: One chunk of halibut cooked to perfection and seasoned just enough to complement the taste of the fish. There was no trace of any side dishes except for the bed of grains the fish came on. I mistakenly expected to get something besides the fish to eat, but I should have known better. The menu stated with admirable clarity that this dish would consist of halibut. Nothing else was mentioned and nothing else was delivered.

As dinner turned out to be a little skinnier than I expected, I decided to get the cheesecake for dessert. The dessert menu is quite explicit in its descriptions and doesn't require the waiter to assist with interpretation. Like the rest of the food, the dessert was excellent.

This restaurant would be simply wonderful minus the weird attitude and the unnecessary complications caused by excessive hip-ness. Given its lack of user-friendliness, dining there will require some practice. That is not really a bad thing.


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