Because I live in the neighborhood (Santa Monica), and because my friend suggested it, I found myself heading towards Houstons for dinner tonight. Aware of the pretty major bad word about the place as evidenced by a Chowhound search namely, the 18% service fee and generally negative vibe I was less than psyched about the choice, but surrendered nevertheless in the name of peace.
I called Houstons in the afternoon and asked about their corkage policy. You know what it is? No corkage fee. Thats right: bring your own and pay nothing. I like that. A whole lot in fact.
We arrived. We were seated, promptly, by a friendly and comely hostess. At the bottom of the menu? "We no longer charge 18% service fee", except for parties of 5 or more. I liked that, too.
I had the pork ribs, my friend the cheeseburger and a salad. The ribs are exactly cheap but they arent bad either. And they come with crispy fires and a chopped salad that goes down rather easily if youre not being too precious. The wine was poured in fine stemware and we had two tall glasses of beautiful municipal tap water. The waitress, like the rest of the waitstaff, was attractive, friendly, quick and informed.
Hey, it aint the worlds best restaurant but it sure isnt the worst. In its own corporate, cheesy, chain-y way it was damn nice, from top to bottom. Its my new favorite restaurant, with a meaty bottle of Rhone wine in hand.