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Where to Brunch in the Washington Corridor

The best spots for mimosas and more.

"It's hard," he admits. "I mean, Roost kind of runs itself. My staff there really cares about what they do, and they've been there a long time. They know that it's a consistent, steady and good paycheck, so they put a lot of effort in. Here it's just a bigger beast. It's like going from owning a Chihuahua to a Great Dane. It's just more to deal with."

Naderi is proud that the restaurant opened with a full menu, rather than holding a soft opening and gradually rolling out items. There are 22 items on the dinner menu and a little more than half that on the lunch menu. Soon Naderi plans to get back in the kitchen and start creating specials to feature daily and weekly, because the menu won't change as frequently as that at Roost, which is more seasonal.

The food at Lillo & Ella is also a bit of a departure for Naderi. Roost has always featured an amalgamation of different cultural influences — from French to Middle Eastern — but Lillo & Ella is firmly Asian-inspired. Naderi calls it "pan-Asian," referring to the fact that the cuisine spans the Asian continent.

You can order off the lunch or brunch menu at our No. 5 pick.
Brooke Viggiano
You can order off the lunch or brunch menu at our No. 5 pick.
After you taste the macarons from Bite, you will be hooked.
Molly Dunn
After you taste the macarons from Bite, you will be hooked.

"It's just based around things that I like to eat and things that I think are lacking in the area," Naderi says. "Granted, I'd said some stuff about how there was no Asian food in this area, but there is. There's Hughie's. I really like that place. And I didn't really do anything that steps on their toes. It's just fun stuff."

There are Vietnamese wings, Chinese grilled quail, thai muu noodles, Korean fried chicken, and some more continental offerings like calamari and melon with chile salt and lime.

The calamari is one of the best squid dishes I've had in a while. I told Naderi I didn't really want it, but he brought it anyway, and I found myself very glad he insisted. Crunchy, bite-size pieces of squid are fried and topped with-crisp fried glass noodles, chunks of pineapple, cherry tomatoes, red peppers and toasted cashews, then it's all drizzled in a bright, acidic miso dressing that made me want to lick the plate. (I refrained, for the record.)

Thai muu noodles are like typical stir-fried flat noodles, only instead of chunks of meat, this dish features ground pork and chiles. I used the condiments on the table — Sriracha and soy sauce, not salt and pepper — to spice up the dish just a little more.

For groups, Naderi recommends sharing a plate of bao, chinese buns filled with your choice of fried chicken, grilled fish, braised bacon or grilled squash. Order the bacon, and never look back.

Naderi hopes to start brunch service at Lillo & Ella in a few weeks, though he's not yet sure what exactly a pan-Asian brunch might entail.

"For sure, I want to do a really fun version of congee," he says. "We could do a breakfast banh mi or plays on stuff like that."

I suggest a congee bar, like the traditional Bloody Mary bar at so many brunch spots. Only instead of vodka and tomato juice, you have rice porridge and any number of different toppings. If that ends up on the menu, you can thank me.

For now, though, you can thank Naderi for spicing up Garden Oaks and the Heights a little bit. Sure, there's already some Asian food in the area. But does anyone else have Nutella pie on the menu?

Yeah. I didn't think so.
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Top 10

A Taste of Paris
The 10 best macarons in Houston.

MOLLY DUNN

We've written about macarons, noted their rising popularity over cupcakes, and suggested them as holiday treats or gifts for friends and family. But we have never ranked the ten best macarons in Houston.

Our great city has a multitude of shops selling the French cookies, and it's no secret why they're appearing everywhere. Macarons are made from almond flour, egg whites and sugar; once they're baked and cooled, a thin spread of ganache, buttercream, fruit jams or preserves is sandwiched between two cookies of the same size. Macarons take much skill and practice to create. But when they're done right, the result is magnificent.

People travel all the way to Paris just to try the macarons at Ladurée, one of the most popular patisseries in the world. Over the past few years, America has embraced the macaron craze and brought the French treat across the ocean. To help you find the best of the best in the Bayou City, here are the ten best macaron shops in Houston.

10. Petite Sweets

It's slightly ironic that the macarons at Petite Sweets are a bit bigger than most of the other treats in the display case. But you don't see us complaining about the larger portions. The macarons come in a variety of vibrant, bright colors just as all of Petite Sweets' desserts do. Don't expect to find standard French macaron flavors like lavender and rose, though. This West Alabama bakery stocks its shelves with American flavors: s'mores, mint chocolate chip, chocolate peanut butter, red velvet cake and cotton candy. Just a warning: You might get an overwhelming rush of sugar with one bite, but that's a good thing.

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