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Shuffle Off for Buffalo
Aging usually intensifies the flavor of meat. In the case of the bone cut of buffalo that Sierra has begun serving, the process also removes any hint of the gamy overtones that often put people off this less-than-common dish. A server told me that aging is what distinguishes Sierra's from the other buffalo in town. I'd say the wonderfully weird mix of seasonings plays a role as well: A sweet, sharp and hot mixture of maple, honey mustard and wasabi makes the portobello-laden meat a worthy challenger to the throne of beef.

Too, the Cro-Magnonstyle presentation is strangely compelling. The enormous slab of meat arrives casually plunked down on a bed of delicately fried and seasoned onion tendrils, a long, thin bone curling upward in a natural handle. It's the perfect blend of sophisticated and savage.

Sierra, 4704 Montrose, 942-7757

Taverna Texana
Cowboy statues, western murals and a tiny chuckwagon fit easily with the name Texas Kitchen & BBQ. So do stacks and stacks of commemorative reproductions of historical Exxon trucks and planes, which line the corridor leading to the steam table in this Jones Road storefront.

But listen. The music is -- Greek? Yep. And it's only a hint of the wondrous incongruities waiting ahead. Alongside the usual barbecued meats, pinto beans and slaw, Texas Kitchen & BBQ serves unfussy Greek food, as authentic and straightforward as what's found in villages closer to the Aegean Sea than to the Gulf of Mexico.

A different dish is featured daily. Wednesday's child, for example, is pastitio, a casserole of noodles and ground beef; even if it can grow dry on the steam table, it still beats all-American macaroni and cheese. Thursday means simple salted (not to mention generously portioned) lamb, with tomato-drenched green beans and rugged chunks of lemony potatoes.

Among the desserts is an array of Greek pastries, every one of them huge. The baklava veers from the sticky standard of the inner city's Greek Festival. Doughy, chewy and not too sweet, this treat is just another surprise in a place that's full of them.

-- Kathy Biehl

Texas Kitchen & BBQ, 12779 Jones Road, (281) 890-1300

 
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