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The good, the bad, & the best: A review of Houston date locales

The interior of the restaurant
The interior of the restaurant

The good
Shade located at 250 West 19th Street

Shade, located on West 19th Street
Shade, located on West 19th Street
Megan Daic

With an eclectic variety of menu items – ranging from Texas fried quail to risotto with seared scallops – Shade offers the perfect date night setting. The owners of the restaurant, Claire Smith and Russell Murrell, have worked diligently to create a hospitable and intriguing environment. Not only does their seasonal menu help to satiate even the most finicky of eaters, but Shade’s ambiance appeals to the inner-adventuresome romantic in you.

The price of their appetizers and salads (on the dinner menu) ranges from $8 to $14, whereas the cost of entrées is anywhere from $14.50 to $29.75 for their ‘Carpetbagger’ Filet Mignon.

Attire could be classified as casual, during lunch hours, and ‘snappy casual’ to dressy for dinner.

The bad
Tilas Restaurant & Bar located at 1111 S. Shepherd Drive

After years of driving by the creatively decorated and well lit Tilas Restaurant & Bar located on Shepherd (on the curve), approximately one and a half blocks away from the new Barnes & Noble on West Grey, I was anxious to spend a special evening at the Mexican restaurant. Having acquired a Restaurant.com coupon for Tilas in the past, a clear, beautiful Wednesday evening seemed ideal to dine on the outdoor patio at Tilas.

The evening began with a far too-knowledgeable waiter who was more than eager to divulge every ingredient and side dish available with each daily special. While he was exceptionally pleasant and informative, this setting did not provide the opportunity to relax and enjoy in intimate conversation. We were then informed that the restaurant no longer accepts coupons from Restaurant.com, which was a blunder on our account. Luckily, Restaurant.com has re-issued the coupon to be used at a different location.

Before our food arrived, I was expectant and excited to taste the dishes. My friend ordered stuffed avocado, while I ordered salmon with vegetables. To our surprise, the stuffed avocado was not fried or really even stuffed at all. It was a cold avocado, halved, with cold shrimp and cocktail sauce poured over the top. If you enjoy ceviche, you would probably like this dish. However, if you are used to warm, fried avocado with crab, shrimp and/or fish stuffed inside, you would most likely be disappointed. Unfortunately for my friend, he is not a lover of ceviche and was therefore unhappy with his choice. I wish I could say that my salmon made up for the unexpected cold, stuffed avocado, but in terms of fish, my fish was f-i-s-h-y.

In Tilas defense, the architecture and ornamental pieces used to decorate the restaurant makes it appear to be truly authentic and enchanting. In terms of the food, however, I must say that I was disappointed enough to decide to never return.

The best
Backstreet Café located at 1103 S. Shepherd Drive

While my experience at Tilas was less than mediocre, I was intrigued to see how packed the restaurant across the way – Backstreet Café – remained after several hours. With contented-looking customers pouring in and out of the classy, cozy 30’s-era house, Backstreet Café unquestionably appeared to be the ‘place to eat at.’ A member of the family of Hugos Restaurant and Prego, Backstreet Café is definitely on my list of ‘cold weather loving’ locales to visit.

With a New Orleans style backyard, seating amongst the flowery shrubbery, lighted trees, hanging ivy and shade of the camphor tree create a truly unique and romantic atmosphere.

After I pay a visit to Hugo Ortega, Backstreet Café’s Executive Chef, I will be sure to report back to you on the ambiance, service and food. I can’t wait!

For more ‘cold weather loving’ date ideas, check out ‘Perfect cold weather restaurant retreat:  Lankford's Grocery & Market'.

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