Ambrosia: More Than Adequate But Less Than Economical

Categories: On the Menu

Ambrosia1.jpg
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Wee little lamb samosa
The opening of a restaurant within walking distance of my apartment always excites me, and I'm admittedly more primed to enjoy their food than that of other similar albeit less proximal places. In the case of Papa Mio, I was happy to find the restaurant met my expectations. Thus when their next-door neighbor Ambrosia opened about six weeks later, I was ready and willing to make this my new ultra-convenient dinner & drins spot.

I waited a few months for the restaurant to get its bearings, and in the meantime read glowing reviews of its food and service. A few diners complained about waiting times, but most just gushed about the Indian tapas and great cocktails. Ambrosia then and now still didn't have a menu on its website, but patrons' pictures and press shots certainly suggested quality small plates. Missing, of course, was prices, but I filled in those gaps with my (overly?) optimistic imagination.

Ambrosia2.jpg
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Goodnight Goa Martini
A few friends and I arrived early on a weekday night to find Ambrosia almost completely empty, a surprise to me considering reviewers' frequent mention of the very busy "happy hour." I learned quickly from our server, a cheerful, very capable young lady, that "happy hour," however, just designates, at least for some reviewers, a general time period in the context of Ambrosia, which offers no regular food and drink discounts. That was a bit disappointing, but my fault for assuming the reference to "happy hour" served more as just a temporal descriptor on Yelp.

We started with a round of cocktails (each $10). My Goodnight Goa martini was bland and weak, though a taste of my friend's vibrant Silk Road Tea suggested perhaps I had ordered the weakest link on the drink menu. Another friend's Muay Thai Martini was even better; the combination of rum, ginger, mango, and muddled green chili created a fiery fruity elixir that paired well with our well-seasoned appetizers.

The samosas were lightly fried and bursting with juicy coriander and cumin flavored lamb. They were also each the size of a ping-pong ball and with three to an order ($11), we were trading mere bites between us. Tiger Prawns (perhaps better named Tiger Cub Prawns) were dressed with a wonderful peppery honey glaze, but the shrimp themselves were, well, shrimpy. About 50th percentile on the growth chart and not worth the $12.

Ambrosia3.jpg
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Curry Wedges

The most substantial dish in terms of serving and satiation factor was the curry wedges, thickly cut fries (chips) covered in a bright rich yellow curry with ground chicken. I could have easily eaten one dish all by myself, however, as the mound was of moderate size and more in line with a $6 or $7 tapa than a full-blown $10 appetizer.

A little more than an hour and a half later (thanks in part to some almost excessively speedy service), my stomach was fuller, my wallet definitely lighter, and my curiosity about Ambrosia permanently satisfied. So much so, in fact, that I don't think I'll be returning any time soon unless they reduce their prices by about 20 percent or start some sort of happy hour. There are equally interesting and less expensive Asian fusion offering in this town (not to mention far cheaper and robust craft cocktails) and Ambrosia's proximity just ain't worth the price.

Location Info

Ambrosia

2003 Lexington St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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5 comments
H_e_x
H_e_x

I wonder how they justify their prices. We have all sorts of food in the town, and all sorts of places to drink. With so many choices, why do they believe they can charge so much? I guess they think that's what the market will bear, but considering most restaurants close down within a year or two you have to wonder if most of them think they can just walk onto the scene and charge whatever they like, market be damned.

SierraintheCity
SierraintheCity

very disappointing to read! i was on the fence about paying them a visit, but this review let's me know i'd just end up frustrated! thanks HP for your consistently superb journalism :)

UrbanSwank
UrbanSwank

Definitely agree with you on the price. Unfortunately, our experience was less about the expensive food and more about the horrible front of the house. We have never been treated as badly as we were treated by the GM at this place. He even reprimanded the hostess as she attempted to apologize to us on our way out. We will never return. 

rgwalt
rgwalt

Wow, what happened?

UrbanSwank
UrbanSwank

@rgwalt To make a very long story short, we asked if there were any other tables available as the only ones open were the uncomfortable "booth like" seats. We were told "no" even after we stated we would wait. We followed up a second time just to be sure as we noticed others moving to regular tables from the same "booth like" seats. We again tried to explain our interested in being re-seated. While I was speaking he interrupted me saying "are you finished?" and "I am not going to be able to make you happy so I don't know what you want me to do." Just rude and unacceptable behavior for a GM.

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