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“Good but not great” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Sparrow Bar + Cookshop

Sparrow Bar + Cookshop
Ranked #1,438 of 8,115 Restaurants in Houston
Price range: $31 - $50
Cuisines: American, International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Full Bar, Parking Available, Reservations, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Alabama
Transit: HCC/Ensemble Light Rail Stop
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
316 reviews
204 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 262 helpful votes
“Good but not great”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 5, 2013

We went to Sparrow last Saturday night with a party of six people. The person who selected the restaurant was excited to let us know that it was a "Monica Pope." We admitted that we were not familiar with Monica Pope and therefore had no particular expectations.

We gave it three stars because of tripadvisor's rating system that goes from 3=average to 4=very good. There is a big jump between average and very good, not just one star in my humble opinion. On that scale, this place would be a 3.5.

First, the good stuff.....bar staff was extremely friendly and let us try a number of the rose wines they had before selecting one. Of course, he kind of "had" to do this since they were out of the one we selected. We were told the space had been redone and our fellow diners really liked the new look and feel. The menu had great selection and many interesting choices. There is easy to use valet parking.

We dine out a lot and are willing to pay for a great meal and excellent service. The entrees pretty much come without any sides. Sparrow calls this "the center of the plate." The sides are $8 a piece or 3 for $18. They are large enough to share among 3-4 people. Even though the pricing isn't that much different/higher than other similar places we have gone, it ends up feeling higher priced. The truth is, it gives you a little more flexibility in creating your own meal which is a good thing. The quality of the food is good and in some cases, very good. It is fairly creative but nothing that really made us say "wow!" Our group sampled the chicken, steak, wild boar, scallops and fish and this "good but not great" was the theme of everyone's review.

The service was just not very good. However, they made an attempt at service recovery by giving us some free desserts (nice touch). Our server wasn't friendly and didn't add much other than being an order taker. What is worse is that they served us our selected wine and did not tell us it was the last bottle. A great server would know a table of six would likely order a second bottle and alert them to this fact. Then, they were out of the second wine we chose. So let's sum that up...out of the rose we chose, one bottle of the first red wine left and none of the second red wine that we chose. They must improve their ability to keep wine inventory in line with the menu or update the menu accordingly. We also suggest some additional training for the wait staff. The person we had didn't seem very enthusiastic about the food and added little value.

For some reason, we really want to like this place. We would probably give it another try if we were in the area. We were in town visiting from Austin and this location is 45 minutes from where we were staying. I would not drive 45 minutes just to go to this restaurant again. I probably would not recommend it to friends unless I went back and had a better overall experience.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank austinjjc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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104 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    44
    27
    21
    4
    8
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Our favorite date restaurant”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 1, 2013 via mobile

Sparrow is our favorite date night restaurant. For apps try mushroom dumplings and Date with a Pig. Kale Ceasar is delish. Scallops are a fave. Shrimp and grits are too. Brusselsprouts are unbelievable considering I hated them growing up. Chocolate sour cherry bread pudding is a staple.
Go to Continental Club next door for live music afterwards.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank Drew M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“I want to like Sparrow...”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 1, 2013

I want to like Sparrow, but I don't. Last night I went for the second time, hoping that it would have improved since my last visit, the first week of re-opening under the new name.
Both when it was Tafia and now, I found the service slow and unwelcoming. The last time I was there, no one said goodbye, thank you, or asked how everything was. Same this time. And Monica was present on both visits.

About the food....Last time I had the most amazing brussel sprouts---even better than Uchi if you can imagine. Last night, meh. The sauce had changed and it wasn't very nice. Scallops overcooked and in a sauce way too strong for those delicate little things. Positives were the tomato/burrata salad, which was outstanding, and the mac and cheese.

I want to like this place. However, I always feel the same---love one dish and find the others, along with the service, average. Maybe I'll try again in 2014!

  • Visited April 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank skl2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Good food, great space, WAY overpriced”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 16, 2013

I'm not sure what the hype about the physical makeover to Sparrow is all about - it still feels like T'afia in there to me. That said, it was (and still is) a great space in which to dine.

As always, Monica finds a way to make really ordinary things remarkably palatable and, well, out of the ordinary. The food was predictably delicious but that's where the train jumps the tracks. I ordered the ribeye steak and was absolutely astonished to be served five little cubes of meat for which I paid $24. I wasn't expecting some sloppy yeehaw ribeye steak hanging over the edge of the plate but I wasn't expecting this blatant ripoff. Was it cooked to perfection? Yup but that was beside the point. It is almost as if the price point had been set not on the value of the food but to prove the place is so hip they could charge ridiculous prices for almost nothing on your plate. I found it less than hip, I found that it achieved the opposite. Anybody who slobbers all over themselves about how great a restaurant is because they think overspending is really cool, isn't really cool at all.

It's unlikely I'll come back here for a meal but I will come back for drinks, enjoy the atmosphere, and watch the menu for changes (especially in prices).

  • Visited April 2013
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Joe B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Texas
Level Contributor
165 reviews
124 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“Creative along with good service”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 11, 2013

Sparrow exceeded expectations. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the place....tight quarters but friendly with professional service. We had ceviche, slaw, steak, coconut soba noodles, two desserts plus wine and drinks. All of the food was made with obvious pride and care. The ceviche in particular stood out. Wife's noodles(their vegetarian offering that night) really was tasty and well done. Wine list was manageable. My only gripe is the ridiculous $1 charge for tap water. I just spent $200 on dinner and you put that on the bill?? Come on, that's BS. I know it's "filtered" water, but so what...I drink Houston water every day and its Just fine. Don't leave a sour taste in the customers mouth after such a great dinner.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
2 Thank grenny1968
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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