PaperCity Magazine

January 2019- Houston

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78 I n France, friends greet one another with a double cheek-to-cheek air kiss. Small wonder, then, that the newest French-inspired eatery to grace our city is named Bisou, which is français for kiss. The new River Oaks District hot spot is a concept created by the Clé Group, a Houston-based hospitality organization run by partners Andrew Estes, Zack Truesdell, Salim Dehkordi, and Dallas Rodriguez; until now, they've been known for nightclubs, Clé and Spire. For their first foray into the world of high-end restaurants, they recruited Fréderic Perrier, a French-born master chef (an exclusive title bestowed upon only 300 chefs worldwide) who was schooled with legends of French cuisine Paul Bocuse and Georges Blanc. He's best known in Houston for 5115 at Saks Fifth Avenue, Café Perrier, and Aura (which he sold last year). Studio Five Design reimagined the 5,500-square-foot space (formerly home to Taverna) into a sophisticated retreat with subtly veined quartzite tables and floors gleaming with brass details, chairs upholstered in plush gray velvet, and sheers that filter a flattering light through the windows. After 8 pm Wednesday through Saturday, a DJ takes his place behind the turntables, and the room's collective volume increases. Your first introduction to Perrier's fare is an amuse bouche of sorts: a refreshing little sip dubbed "first kiss," a gentle, spirited combination of elderflower liquor, Prosecco, and sparkling water. Start with the wagyu tartare bites, a quartet of steak tartare morsels upon toasted brioche and topped with a perfectly cooked quail egg. For something unexpected, try Perrier's yellowtail sashimi with dollops of apple butter splashed with Lillet blanc and topped with a seared piece of foie gras. Want to linger over a Côtes du Rhone? Head to the sharable section of the menu and order the groaning cheese and charcuterie board. Taking up nearly half the table's real estate, it's a wonderful array of imported cheese and house- cured meats, pâtés, and condiments. For those of us who judge a chef by his or her roasted chicken, Perrier more than passes muster with his sharable whole chicken accompanied by a fresh-thyme-and-garlic-scented jus with mushrooms and pearl onions, roasted with bacon lardon for a layer of seasoning never achieved with merely salt and pepper, The rack of lamb also entices, with a fresh- mint-and-garlic-like pesto and a side of shepherd's pie made with lamb neck and studded with goat cheese. Desserts are not to be missed, especially the classic apple- studded tarte Normande and the showstopping affogato, a dark chocolate semi-sphere encircled with crunchy cookies beneath chocolate hazelnut ice cream. Bisou, River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer R o a d , 7 1 3 . 9 5 5 . 3 8 5 5 , KISS, KISS A t the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts downtown, there's a new reason to reserve a table along with your theater tickets. Replacing the original Cordúa restaurant concept Artista, which debuted when the Hobby Center was built, is Diana American Grill, named for Diana Hobby, the wife of William P. Hobby Jr., and the center's famed arts patron and an erudite fixture in Houston mid-century society. Spectrum Concessions & Catering tapped hometown celebrity chef Robert Del Grande to create the menu, and architect Tim Cisneros to refresh the interiors with a fittingly dramatic, black-and-dark-blue palette. Every night and weekend, the culinary stage is set for a dining experience inspired by the grill rooms, French brasseries, and Italian trattorias that border the New York theater district. Here you'll find culinary classics such as black angus rib-eye steak with melted garlic sauce and steak fries, served with large rings of caramelized onions; seared Fundy Bay salmon, its crisp skin accented with sesame, alongside mustard cream and garlic spinach; and orecchiette pasta with Maine lobster tossed in marinara sauce with ricotta. Because time is of the essence at the Hobby Center, RDG also offers soups (cream of tomato, potato or onion) to pair with quick salads such as asparagus with roasted bacon and chopped-egg sauce and a cucumber and parsley with stilton and Marcona almonds. Sharable apps shouldn't be missed, from the Tillamook cheddar pimento cheese dip with homemade crackers to lump crabmeat with remoulade. End your meal with the wonderfully unctuous New York-style cheesecake with a blackberry sauce and pecan-studded graham cracker crumb crust. Reservations suggested. Diana American Grill, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 713.315.2562, DIANA, AS IN MRS. HOBBY Chef Robert Del Grande TREVOR GERLAND KIRSTEN GILLIAM Diana American Grill at the Hobby Center Bisou in River Oaks District Bisou NEW RESTAURANTS TO RESERVE FOR THE NEW YEAR BY LAURANN CLARIDGE

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