PaperCity Magazine

September 2018- Houston

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Page 129 of 151

124 BY CATHERINE D. ANSPON. PHOTOGRAPHY JENNY ANTILL CLIFTON. Cinda Palacios Lulu's restaurant, Round Top R ound Top has its first destination restaurant, and it comes from a couple with town ties dating to 1979: Cinda and Armando Palacios of Houston's iconic Armandos restaurant brand. Lulu's opened to enthusiastic throngs in spring, at the peak of the antiques-show action. The menu modestly proclaims "Italian Home Cooking," but that doesn't begin to describe the experience of this restaurant. Sited on the town square, Lulu's has been beautifully restored to its 19th-century bones, with a pared-down aesthetic that marries Provence with its origins as a German brewery, circa 1873 — the date inscribed upon its keystone. Formerly home to the original Stone Cellar music venue, Lulu's reborn interiors are liminal and gleaming with a nacreous patina of time, and one that is completely authentic — no faux finishes here. The dining rooms are simple, their sturdy walls, which have weathered nearly 150 years, uncovered and preserved. Cinda, an architect by trade, presides over Lulu's, while Armando is the master of the nearby Tex-Mex hot spot, Mandito's — or, as the Houston crowd calls it, little Armandos. Signature dishes for lunch include hand-tossed pizzas, salads, cold penne pasta salad, a croque-madame served with house-made potato chips, and the hearty meatball sandwich. But the romance of Lulu's is most evident in the evening hours where sophisticated fare includes rack of lamb with guajillo pepper cabernet reduction ($32) and the sublime and simple grilled salmon drizzled in citrus-infused olive oil ($30). The roasted-beet salad with crumbled French feta ($14) makes a good beginning. Pasta devotees have three perfect choices ($16 each): a classic pomodoro and meatball, bucatini alla puttanesca with white anchovies, or the indulgent carbonara with pancetta and peas. Finish off with a panna cotta ($9) or a trio of sorbets and gelatos ($8). Surveying the scene as Lulu's hummed in preparation for one of its busiest nights of the summer season, Armando says — "It works because of where we are. Round Top is River Oaks — in the country." Lulu's, 204 E. Mill St., Round Top, 979.249.5171. Croque-Madame Sgroppino with blood- orange sorbet LEZU PHOTOGRAPHY LEZU PHOTOGRAPHY

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