We stopped by the European-style Café Rose on the bottom floor of Hotel Sorella (800 West Sam Houston Parkway), recently opened by Alex Brennan-Martin of Brennan's, and tried a grilled hanger steak wrap and margarita panini. The food was in line with Brennan's reputation. Tender steak, caramelized onions, peppers, and mozzarella were served alongside spicy slaw, and it all tasted great. The margarita panini had prosciutto and a subtle sweetness from the piquillo mayonnaise. We also were very happy with the price point for this upper-end café fare -- $8 to $10 buys you lunch or dinner, and the coffee is reasonable if you are a fan of Illy. We aren't, but if you do order a coffee, ask for Patrick, the resident latte artist.
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The build-out of this café transcends the prices. Beautiful cedar lining, deep stained floors, excellent seating and a top-notch bar create ambience not easily found in Houston. Vaulted ceilings match the feel of luxury from the furniture. Upstairs lies Bistro Alex, the more food-oriented and upscale version of Rose.The Bistro has more of a business environment, while the café feels like a place to wind down, unbutton the jacket and relax.