The 10 Best Downtown Restaurants

More than tunnels and tourist traps.

2. Quattro at the Four Seasons

Lunch is rather standard at this downtown hotel restaurant, offering Continental business fare. Dinner is where Italian-born chef Maurizio Ferrarese is allowed to shine, however, and when the prices reflect the quality of Quattro's simple, streamlined dishes and house-made pastas. Ferrarese's signature short rib ravioli with black truffle and corn purée is a favorite, as are his perfectly executed risotto dishes. Sunday brunch is a popular draw, too, with a lavish buffet that's justifiably famous.

1. Oxheart

A plate of mixed vegetable wats at Lucy.
Katharine Shilcutt
A plate of mixed vegetable wats at Lucy.
What will become of Raku's red ropes?
Troy Fields
What will become of Raku's red ropes?

Chef Justin Yu joined forces with his pastry chef wife, Karen Man, to create a restaurant that's wholly Houston except for one notable thing: Instead of sprawl, the tiny Oxheart seats only 30 people. Yu and Man highlight locally grown produce and locally raised meats on their veggie-heavy menus, which change from week to week. Three different chef's tasting menus are available at night, priced from two affordable four-course menus to a more extravagant affair with seven courses. All three tasting menus are available with wine pairings, which are as joyfully unusual as the food: a sweet Blandy's Sercial Madeira paired with a dusky, savory sunflower seed soup, for example, or Kalin Cellars Semillon drunk with a rabbit saddle cooked with green garlic ash. Oxheart is one of the restaurants chiefly responsible for bringing waves of national attention to Houston's current dining scene, which is all the more satisfying given the restaurant's entirely humble setting and cozy appeal.

For Your Health

Bursting Your Bubble
FDA says no to caffeinated gum.

Molly Dunn

Wrigley's new caffeinated gum, Alert Energy Gum, only lasted a couple of weeks on the shelves of supermarkets, grocery stores and convenient stores after the FDA became concerned about the amount of caffeine each piece offered.

With 40 milligrams of caffeine (equal to half a cup of coffee) in each piece of gum, it's no shock as to why the FDA was concerned, especially because we live in a world where energy drinks and coffee thrive. Although other gum companies have released their own caffeinated items, such as Mentos's Up2U Gum and Jolt's energy gum, the FDA has become recently concerned with the amount of added caffeine in foods and drinks.

In fact, the main worry the FDA has about caffeinated beverages and foods is that most of the products are marketed to children, who shouldn't be consuming energy drinks and coffee throughout the day. The FDA's limit for caffeine consumed each day is 400 milligrams, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee. This limit is set for adults, but the FDA discourages the consumption of caffeine or caffeinated items by children and youths.

Gum is an item consumed by people of all ages, so unlike alcohol, it isn't blocked from being purchased by children or adolescents. In a statement from the FDA, Michael R. Taylor, the deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the agency, said, "One pack of this gum is like having four cups of coffee in your pocket. Caffeine is even being added to jelly beans, marshmallows, sunflower seeds and other snacks for its stimulant effect."

While the package of Alert Energy Gum has eight pieces, it's quite easy for a single person to chew an entire pack in one day. In fact, many Americans are guilty of being chain chewers. If caffeinated gum were chewed in such a manner, many people would take in too much caffeine on a daily basis, especially if they consume other caffeinated foods, such as coffee, tea, soda or energy drinks.

Taylor praised Wrigley for taking the product off the market once the FDA raised concerns about added caffeine in general.

The concern raised by the FDA calls for us to wonder if caffeinated beverages or foods, including caffeinated gum, will be restricted for use by children and younger adults or if the amount of consumption by individuals will be limited. Caffeine has the potential to produce effects on sleep, heart rates and blood pressure, and can cause headaches and dizziness and increase anxiety.

But for now, you won't see Alert Energy Gum on the shelves in your local grocery or convenience store while the FDA investigates caffeinated foods and drinks.

Top 5

Teach a Man to Fish
The 5 best cookbooks to give as gifts to recent grads.

Molly Dunn

The end of May is approaching, meaning that graduation season has begun. Many high school and college graduates will soon be on their own and no longer under the wings of their parents, which means that they must provide for themselves. All parents want to know that their children can feed themselves properly and otherwise take care of themselves.

So, as a gift to these recent graduates, give them a cookbook to help guide them through cooking on their own. Here are some we think are good bets:

5. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Cookbook

Not only does this cookbook provide 375 recipes made in a test kitchen, it's all bound together with a ring-binder, making it easy to flip through while you're cooking. It's filled with all sorts of recipes varying in cooking methods and nutrition. In fact, some dishes come with a smart-phone tag that links the user to a how-to video for more help.

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