With the price of gold at record-high levels, it may be time to give Oro in the Emily Morgan some renewed scrutiny. Should diners be flocking to the relative safety of its take-no-risks menu? Can the writer resist referring to “all that glitters” and fool’s gold?
It is true that some of the restaurant’s visual luster has dimmed slightly over the years. When it first opened it was a handsome example of understated luxe, but some details, the salmon-hued upholstery among them, are beginning to need attention. The initially ambitious menu, however, has had more ups and downs than the stock market. Though there’s nothing trail-blazing on the current dinner document, signs of resurgence are present in dishes such as achiote-grilled Texas quail. At lunch the selection is understandably even more cautious. Think chorizo corn dogs and Angus burgers.
No, really. One food-obsessed friend went off recently on the corn dogs. Couldn’t get enough of ’em. The Oro flame-grilled Angus burger I can personally testify to: Though its price has recently risen by $2 (maybe it’s pegged to gold), it is nevertheless one of the best I’ve had hereabouts. The bun is beautiful, buttery and toasty. Angus and aged Swiss (you can also have cheddar or blue) are a perfectly matched pair. The “local” tomato had skipped town, but sweet onion and chopped lettuce provided just enough crunch and contrast. In short, it all just worked.
Despite missing its Fresno chilies and being a tad too wet, the finely-chopped whitefish ceviche certainly passed the freshness test. It is, however, a little pricy at $12. The “spring” broccoli and guajillo soup, a combination seemingly designed to offend both veg-haters and chilephobes, is actually way better than it sounds. But based on a Shiner Bock-braised short rib slider that has recently cycled off the menu, I’d be cautious about getting really spendy on the $20 plate of ribs that remains; the braising lacked that slow-simmered quality that’s also usually confirmed by a pulled texture.
Much can be forgiven, however, with the $2 martinis available at lunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. Mine arrived a little slushy from being shaken with easily fractured ice, but the ingredients were good. And it made me feel Mad-Men indulgent.
The Emily Morgan Hotel
705 E. Houston