New westside restaurant doesn’t face onto a parking lot. Chaos ensues:
The dining room of Straits, the swank new Malaysian restaurant at City Centre, looks chaste and serene in its Web site photos. So I was dumbstruck by the maelstrom that greeted me on a school night the week before Thanksgiving, when the restaurant felt more like a thunderous Vegas nightclub.
The bulk of the floor plan was given over to bar/lounge seating, and outdoors–looking upon the grassy City Centre mall plaza ringed with fire pits–tented pavilions held still more tables for the cocktail crowd. A live band on an outdoor stage blared R&B standards as ice-blue holiday lights swayed, wind whipped the fire-pot flames high and merrymakers clustered on the chilly lawn.
“It looks like the Devil’s Playground out there,” murmured my dinner guest as he found me at a table beside the sleek open kitchen. We were both a little shellshocked. Judging by the avid crowds, far west Houston, out by I-10 and the Beltway, has been hungering for a capital-S-Scene, and the restaurant- and bar-heavy new City Centre development has provided one readymade.
Photo of CityCentre courtyard: Misha Govshteyn