Chow Bella

Cafe: Hillstone

Changing is a risky venture at best. A band's first album may be critically acclaimed. If they change their style after that, they'll lose some of the audience that earned their initial success. If they stay the same, they'll get boring. So must it be with restaurants. Either you change to keep things interesting (at the risk of failure for deviating too much) or grow stale.

Hillstone, the spiritual successor to Houston's, is in such a predicament right now.

Food Critic Michele Laudig on Hillstone:

The sushi here won't win any awards -- the rice was too sweet and not quite tender enough, and somebody had a heavy hand with the wasabi. Although the salmon, white fish, and tuna in the nigiri combo were fresh, the final creations were mediocre at best. I still don't get why it's on the menu at all.

Better to stick with the tried and true, in my opinion. Lucky me, it was tortilla soup night on the "soup calendar," and after one bite, it made sense that this dish appears twice in any given week. (Really, they should have it every day.) The smooth, spicy tomato broth was scattered with thin, crispy tortilla strips and a few soft chunks of avocado, while succulent bits of white chicken meat were hidden beneath the surface. Satisfying stuff...full story

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Jonathan McNamara