District of Columbia County, District of Columbia
September 1, 2004
Baba Yega is a true Montrose icon. This place has played host to countless same-sex first dates and anniversary celebrations, and remains a popular spot for Sunday brunch. The restaurant has suffered in recent years from somewhat unpredictable service and food quality, but in general it remains good. My last meal at Baba Yega on a Tuesday night was quite good, although at my last visit for Sunday brunch the food was good but subpar compared to previous brunches.
One of Baba Yega's draws is the cozy, quiet atmosphere. The restaurant is a hodge-podge of an old house, several other buildings, and additions linking them. There are quiet dining rooms in the front area and near the bar, a nice outdoor patio under the huge tree in front of the restaurant, semi-outdoor garden seating around a beautifully landscaped garden (with parrots) and pond in the back, and a large upstairs dining area with outdoor balcony tables overlooking the garden. On nice days in the spring and fall the outdoor seating is very popular, as this is one of Houston's best outdoor restaurant atmospheres. Unfortunately the hot, humid summers and wet winters make this seating uncomfortable for about half of the year. The restaurant has enclosed some of these areas with canvas drop-down "walls" that allow them to be used when it is too hot or cold, and with these partitions closed and the air conditioning or heat running, they can be comfortable.
The menu features a variety of fancy sandwiches (I particularly like the smoked turkey with brie), burgers, grilled fish and chicken (I recommend the delicious grilled salmon served with vegetables and their very good herbed rice), and a large selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Desserts are generally good (try the lime chiffon). A Sunday brunch buffet is available and features a wide selection of the restaurant's mainstays, along with salads, a nice selection of fresh fruit, eggs, a carving station, made-to-order omelets, and desserts. Mimosas are a popular brunch beverage, although recent price increases have ended the days where you could get drunk on the bottomless mimosas for about $5. Full bar service and a wine list are available as well. Besides Sunday brunch, other popular specials include Monday night steak nights, and the daily dinner specials, which are displayed next to the hostess stand as you enter the restaurant. Usually the dinner special is a good choice, but it does tend to be $4-5 more expensive than most of the other entrees on the menu.
Baba Yega is a great place for a quiet dinner with a date or group of friends. And, with its location just around the corner from the Pacific St. bars, it's a good place for dinner before a night out. The only thing keeping me from giving Baba Yega my "Very Highly Recommended" rating is the restaurant's inability to stay consistently in the "very good" area. One visit may be outstanding, the next just average. Still, I highly recommend it.
From journal A Gay Man's Guide to Houston, TX