"Santa Monica--Houston's proves you can't get far from sushi in California'

By The Editor

Houston's is a chain that started in Texas and has prospered thanks to a reputation of quality from the kitchen and superior service. That Houston's in Santa Monica has a devoted following was evident the recent night we dined there.

Actually we were there to try Houston's new sushi menu, a first for the chain and at this writing exclusive to the Santa Monica restaurant. The physical layout is perfect, for this favorite with California diners, since the restaurant offers an upstairs cocktail lounge with casual seating and here guests can watch the Sushi Chef at work.

We sampled all four items on the sushi menu including the Spicy tuna Roll, Vegetable Roll, a classic California Roll and a crunchy Shrimp and Macadamia Roll. All the sushi rolls are made to order and use produce from Santa Monica Farmer's Market, located just down the street. Served with the sushi are choices of peanut or ponzu sauces.

My dining partners sipped an Italian Pinot Grigio and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with their rolls while this Writer enjoyed a Gray Goose Vodka on the rocks. With the sushi serving as excellent appetizers we were ready for our entrees. The wine list features wines from Santa Barbara County, 12 in number, as well as other California wines and some imports as well. There is also a good selection of wines by the glass.

Houston's does not show a big menu but what they do they do very well. Always on the menu are two fresh catch of the day fish entrees and we had an perfectly prepared grilled grouper, a large portion that flaked to the touch. With this we had a size huge baked potato. My dining partners ordered the Seared Tuna Steak and the prime rib roast, a specialty at Houston's. Portions are big at this restaurant and half the prime rib was tucked into a container for later enjoyment. The Ahi tuna arrived seared rare with vinaigrette, coleslaw and thick sliced tomato.

Other popular entrees on the menu include a house specialty hardwood grilled filet mignon, a marinated Hawaiian Rib Eye and a half chicken, rotisserie roasted, served with french fries.

Our Five Nut Brownie with champagne custard was big enough for all three of us to nibble on with decadent pleasure.

Chef Andy Evans is in charge of the exhibition kitchen which is a part of the contemporary decor of the restaurant. Comfortable leather booths complete the picture of leisurely dining.

Houston's is located at 202 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica and is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. There is valet parking in the evening. Reservations are often a necessity at this very busy restaurant. Call 310 576-7558.

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Last Update:6/10/04

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