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Up for a Spin

At Spindletop, it's the view, not the food, that dazzles

Two grilled entrées -- the barbecued tuna and sesame sirloin -- had distinct similarities in terms of preparation and execution. Both were quick-grilled and accented with a sweetish sauce for moisture and flavor. The steak, with its bias cut showcasing the rare beef inside, fared well under a sweet mixture of hoisin and soy. But unfortunately, the thin slab of tuna, ordered medium rare, arrived gray and dry, the victim of too much fire for the steak's thickness. Both were also served with lumpy mashed potatoes and a steamed/sautéed julienne of carrots and squash (the New American influence?) -- neither of which held much flavor or appeal.

A similar dryness typified the house specialty, a tea-roasted duckling with a dark, almost lacquered skin. The flavors were dense and powerful, but the texture played against the dish's overall presentation and appeal.

The dessert selection, though limited to a trio during our visits, held a couple of tasty finishers. A cappuccino mousse had a nice, light body and excellent flavor, while the dense chocolate cheesecake didn't skimp on either flavor or richness.

The shrimp cocktail, sesame sirloin (center) and sea 
bass fillet are good, but the vista is magnificent.
Troy Fields
The shrimp cocktail, sesame sirloin (center) and sea bass fillet are good, but the vista is magnificent.

Location Info

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Spindletop At the Hyatt Regency

1200 Louisiana
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > Continental

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

Rosemary skewered shrimp: $7.50
Sweet red and yellow tomato salad: $6.25
Chicken and mushroom: $7.50 beggar's purse
Bouquet of baby greens: $6
Peanut-crusted sea bass: $23
Barbecued ahi tuna: $19.75
Sesame sirloin: $26
Tea-roasted duckling: $21
1200 Louisiana, 713-646-6999. Hours: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Cocktails available starting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

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Service, on the whole, was notably good, considering that waiters and runners work whole shifts on a moving field with a four-foot circular aisle. Peculiarities in the presentation -- irregularly shaped ceramic plates clanking on top of round base chargers, for example -- were also forgivable, if a bit annoying.


The real star at Spindletop has been and always will be its commanding, constantly shifting view of the city. Every 62 minutes, you'll be able to see the graceful roadway ballet, the city's low-slung neon attractions (the clocks on City Hall, the Aquarium's blue-green Ferris wheel) and 20-story swaths of adjacent office towers, illuminated and looking like modern-day ant farms. It's a wonderful balance of panoramic and human-scale vistas that draws diners up 30 stories for a chance to run slow circles around downtown Houston.

And if you're lucky enough to get one of the 200 window-side seats during an evening electrical storm, you'll witness constant natural drama from a man-made perch as lightning illuminates the skyline and you move in sweet, barely perceptible slow motion.

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