where not to go for valentine’s day

Stella Sola
1001 Studewood St.
Houston, TX 77008
713-880-1001


3.5/5 bone marrows

Note: The restaurant lighting was way too dim for any quality photos so no images for this post.

For one of our Supper Club experiences, we ventured to Stella Sola, which came highly recommended by a foodie friend. The restaurant supposedly fuses local Texas ingredients with Tuscan flair, this being yet another project brought to the Houston dining scene by the same crew that brought us Reef and Little Bigs.

“You thought the bone marrow at Catalan was good? Wait till you try the marrow at Stella Sola,” Foodie Friend said.

So we did try the bone marrow at Stella Sola. But we had to wait a good long time for it. The service was incredibly slow–we must’ve waited over 30 minutes for our appetizer. The bone marrow was delicious, but I recall Catalan’s bone marrow to be superior; Stella Sola’s was not as rich, and I preferred the condiments served alongside the marrow at Catalan. Or maybe I was already grouchy from having waited too long.

For my second course, I had the “country style” pork rib with bacon braised greens, olive oil mash (whatever that is), and lemon mostarda ($23). (What is with these complicated menu descriptions anyway?) The sides seemed to me like a polenta, and I wish they would’ve just called it so and save us all a headache. The first few bites were good, but as the dinner wore on, my dish began tasting saltier and saltier. My dinner companions also noted that their dishes–a Wagyu steak (which the server described as a Texas kobe) and a local Texas fish–were nothing to rave about and definitely not worth the price.

In the end, we were lukewarm about our experience. I personally would not choose to go there again, but to be fair, I’ll usually give everything a second chance. Stella Sola seems to fall into line with my impressions of the other sister restaurants. While I liked Reef, I didn’t buy into all the rave with Little Bigs. And that’s exactly how I felt about Stella Sola: it’s good but nothing awesome.

When I told Foodie Friend that I was unimpressed with Stella Sola, she admitted that their prices dictated more of a “sitting at the bar and ordering just the bone marrow and wine” type of visit before heading elsewhere for a more suitable meal. Oh well. At least I can say I’ve tried it. But the fact that I was ambivalent about something Foodie Friend had raved about makes me wonder if I have truly transcended what is considered normal and entered into true gastronomical snobbery. That idea, too, causes me ambivalence.

2 Responses to where not to go for valentine’s day
  1. Uyen Reply

    I went to Stella sola for brunch, and I like it a lot. I remembered wiping my plate clean. I've never been to Reef, but I plan to. I'm a caswell fan, and I liked Little Bigs too. I recall someone explaining the difference between American & European diners. Europeans go for the dining "experience" and Americans are going to get fed-in & out. I would've been grouchy too, but you can't go to Mark's without it being a 2+ hrs either…

  2. the Blind Cook Reply

    Uyen: While I agree that a Mark's dining experience would also take a long time, my main gripe was that we sat idle at the table. Because we ordered no appetizers, the entrees should come out quicker. This is a flaw in the kitchen flow. Had we drinks and appetizers, the long wait would've been more forgivable. That being said, I would be willing to try a place twice so long as the service wasn't horrendous; and it wasn't. I also agree that Europeans pay for the experience which is why ever meal we had in Europe lasted 2+ hours. Americans don't know what siestas are–we're always on the go go go. And Americans (at least Texans) seem to rave about a restaurant if the portions are huge: quantity over quality, says the Texan.

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