Deciding on an appetizer can be a heavyweight decision at Farrago [318 West Gray, (713)523-6404]. Specializing in fusion cuisine, the Midtown restaurant offers such title contenders as chili-cured tenderloin, Asian barbecue duck and jerk chicken wings. But chef Todd Stevens has really tipped the scales with his curried mussels ($10). Though the mass of succulent shellfish flexes a lot of muscle -- gastronomically speaking, that is -- the best part of the dish is a side of garlic bread that's delicious when dipped into the Thai curry coconut milk spiked with basil, cilantro and lime. This exercise packs a punch to what is already a winner.

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Melanie Knight