Mycological Masterpiece

Mushroom lovers will revel in the mixed mushroom phyllo strudel ($8.75) at Shade (250 West 19th Street, 713-863-7500), the restaurant recently opened by Claire Smith, founder of Daily Review Cafe. Three different types of mushrooms -- portobello, button and porcini -- are stuffed into two triangular pockets of flaky pastry, then baked to a golden-brown finish. These sit atop tenderly sautéed, fresh baby spinach, which in turn sits on a bed of Israeli couscous, which is larger and less absorbent than the semolina-based North African kind and has a spongy texture similar to tapioca. It's a round, pellet-like pasta, not unlike the rice-shaped pasta known as orzo. Since mushrooms do well in the shade, this seems to be the perfect place to enjoy them.


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