Letters

How Could We?
I was appalled and astounded to read Eric Lawlor's catty assassination of Bistro 224 ["Bad-News Bistro," April 30]. He totally missed the point of the delicious food and lower Westheimer ambiance, instead going off on a disgusting diatribe of so many irrelevant or barely relevant things. These include the waiter too friendly, waiter not attentive enough, waitress too attractive, room not crowded enough at lunchtime, neighbors including a porno store and an old laundromat, his knife was too big, the neighborhood had too many townhouses. This is sickening and unfair.

Any longer-term observer of lower Westheimer (and the HP has witnessed it all) surely must realize the Bistro 224 proprietor deserves a Houston Medal of Gallantry for creating an aesthetic restaurant space at the former site of a boarded-up crack house, and for toughing it out there, competing with the super successful La Strada, Ruggles, Michelangelo's, Aldo's, etc.

More to the point, only halfway through this "review" does the reader see anything about food! Finally, you note that it is elaborate ... delicious, but even this is written in an unbelievably twisted, nasty, negative way. Highly opinionated jerks like Lawlor shouldn't review anything. How could his awful criticism be at all valid when the Houston Chronicle consistently has given this restaurant raves? Lawlor needs a vacation (permanent?) and the Houston Press owes Bistro 224 a giant apology and retraction.

Rick Ehrlich
Houston

She's Appalled, Too
I am appalled at your inaccurate review of Bistro 224. The reviewer, Eric Lawlor, shows a startling unfamiliarity with cuisine and restaurants. It is hard to imagine when Mr. Lawlor visited Bistro 224. We have never encountered an empty restaurant.

Now, let's discuss some criticisms. I am particularly fond of snails. His "a mere six of them" is ridiculous. I have never seen more served in one order, here, in Europe or in South America. Where did he find a larger order? As for them "languishing" in butter, how else would he suggest they be served?

The crab cakes are a favorite of mine, and of several of my friends. If Mr. Lawlor doesn't like three sauces, he need only eat one. The pork tenderloin is excellent and is another favorite. My friends and I do not consider it "burdened" with the plum sauce, but the waiter or waitress would be happy to serve it unadorned. It's a shame Mr. Lawlor is bewildered by the presentation of the gravlax. Frankly, I'm surprised he knew that it was salmon. Finding it accompanied by chopped egg yolks, capers, chopped red onions and a wedge of lemon is certainly not unusual, and is welcome to many of us.

Mr. Lawlor may be a "dreadful snob where mussels are concerned," but it would be interesting to learn where he was served mussels that were not open. Likewise, I am curious about green beans so firm that they required a pair of pliers.

It appears that the dining experiences of your reviewer, Mr. Lawlor, must have been limited to fast-food restaurants. He obviously is not knowledgeable about fine dining. It is a shame that he has been allowed to criticize a restaurant as outstanding as Bistro 224.

Marjorie Heying
Houston

He's Disppointed and Angered
I am extremely disappointed and angered by the unnecessarily vicious attack on the Bistro 224 in the guise of a restaurant review. Eric Lawlor, the writer of the "review," seems to have had an ulterior motive.

I have some questions for Mr. Lawlor that I, a frequent patron of the Bistro 224, would like to have answered. The first deals with that part of his "review" that was the most self-serving and baffling:

Mr. Lawlor, why was it necessary to mention the proximity of a laundromat and adult bookstore in a restaurant review?

It would appear to any fair-minded individual that the location of a restaurant does not affect its service or the quality of its food. You could have just as easily mentioned that Courtlandt Place shares the same neighborhood. As a matter of fact, it's just across the street.

If the location of Bistro 224 is going to be mentioned at all, it should be to commend the owner, Matt Khajehali. Are you aware, Mr. Lawlor, that the building housing Bistro 224 is a former crack house? Mr. Khajehali single-handedly turned the building into a safe, fine restaurant. I would consider this an improvement. Since valet service is provided at Bistro 224, it doesn't matter what neighbors it has.

My next question for Mr. Lawlor deals with his inability to either like or dislike the various dishes he reviewed: Did you like the salmon gravlax or not?

As a very frequent patron of the finest restaurants, I can assure you, Mr. Lawlor, that they also offer capers, red onion, hard-boiled egg and, yes, even lemon to accompany their salmon. If you were to go to the Brownstone for one of their fine brunches, you would see bowls of these set next to the whole poached salmon. These are served with the gravlax at Bistro 224 to give the patron options, Mr. Lawlor. It seems a shame to me that you, a restaurant reviewer, feel it's "the job of the kitchen" to make all decisions when it comes to the food you are reviewing.

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