Short Orders: Cretia's

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4900 McKinney

My memory can be a little fuzzy at times (I blame an extended childhood devoted to Hogan's Heroes re-runs). But if I'm correct, the new Cretia's on McKinney looks an awful lot like the old one.

Different part of the street, of course, but same Victorian feel to the place, same imprints on the ceiling tiles, similar color scheme.

The menu is broader, though--ranging from pizza and pasta to steamed clams, wild salmon and rotisserie meats. Not much of this works to set the restaurant apart (local artisanal cheeses...yawn...find them anywhere), with the possible exception of a pot pie  selection that changes daily.

These things are suited for a meal and come with a side salad. On a recent visit, the pot pie was roasted pork shoulder--which turned out to be a rather imprecise description of large cubes of tender meat seasoned to holiday spiciness (think nutmeg and earthy sweet flavors), along with halved fingerling potatoes and smaller bits of carrot in a savory stew. The topping was a bit supine, but the whole worked nicely. And their idea of a house salad involves candied nuts, tomatoes and a decently clingy dressing.

In fact, it may be best to stick with daily offerings. Their soup one time was an interesting roasted tomato the color of a Longhorns' home jersey harnessed and tamed by coconut. The creamy broth eased through flavors that were earthy and smoky to rustic and tart to husky-sweet...although that translates to 'good.' Unfortunately, they pushed a little too far and tossed in lobster scraps--kinda lost in such a pronounced soup.

But here's a warning. This past Friday I sat there watching a crew hustle back and forth, setting up for live music, perhaps a DJ. The dining room is modest in size and separated from the bar area by a curtain. A single amplifier could dominate the place.

So keep that in mind if you're looking to share some conversation during dinner.

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