Leslie Brenner reviewed VH: The new-ish Oak Cliff venture from Bistro 31 alums Victor Hugo and Chef Eric Brandt has "some likable dishes," if you order right: Brenner enjoyed the calamari fries with "a zingy Sriracha- spiked romesco sauce," a "very good" burger, and the pot roast, "fork-tender and served on cheesy grits with a good, winy braising sauce." Less successful were "an ill-conceived shrimp-and-melon ceviche" and a Thai chicken salad that "tasted generic and flat." Overall the critic wished Brandt's menu "would sparkle a bit more than it did" and thinks it could use some retooling, though "Hugo has gotten something very right that’s elusive to many restaurateurs: a great vibe, and a sense that the staff cares." [DMN]
Robert Philpot checked out Le Cep Restaurant: The food at Fort Worth's "new 60-seat Parisian-influenced restaurant" has "the power to evoke a quintessentially French experience in your memory — even if you’ve never been to France." The "minimalist" grayscale dining room allows the food and wine to take mainstage, whether you choose "an eight-course 'discovery' for $85 or a four-course tasting menu for $45." Standout dishes included lamb with "a buttery edamame puree," venison tartare that "was melt-in-your-mouth delicious," and "perfectly cooked" beef tenderloin over "creamy, rustic mashed potatoes." A $15 cheese supplement is "worth it," and "service was excellent." In summary, "it’s refreshing to see a restaurant that takes its time, making the meal an evening out in itself." [DFW.com]
ELSEWHERE: Scott Reitz gushed over the Korean beef soup at LA Han Bat; Teresa Gubbins sampled burgers and more at the resurrected Big State Fountain Grill in Irving; DFW.com's resident vegetarian checked out meatless brunch offerings; Daniel Vaughn went to Stillwater Barbeque in Abilene; SideDish sampled holiday beers.