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PaperCity Houston July_August 2021_rev

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BY LAURANN CLARIDGE BONSOIR LE JARDINIER Houston diners a chance to enjoy both. Open exclusively for dinner at the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building (the new modern and contemporary wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), the dining room grants a peek into the Isamu Noguchi- designed outdoor aerie. Framed by cool concrete walls with priceless works by Louise Bourgeois, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, and Auguste Rodin, the sculpture garden is shaded by native oaks and blossoming crepe myrtle trees. But this is a precious view, indeed: There's currently a month wait for a dinner reservation. Joining the ranks of such famed museum restaurants as The Modern at NYC's Museum of Modern Art, Rijks at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and In Situ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Le Jardinier is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Alain Verzeroli, Bastion's culinary director. During his storied career, Verzeroli has spent time in the kitchens of Taillevent and Arpège in Paris and worked for more than two decades with the late superstar chef Joël Robuchon. Verzeroli has created three Le Jardinier locations (NYC, Miami, Houston), but don't expect the same menu in all cities. He culls his produce and protein from local purveyors (and those a FedEx trip away, when you cannot beat the flavor and quality of white asparagus from Provence, for example), with seasonal menus adapted to each climate and its inhabitants' sensibilities. T o dine on exquisitely p l a t e d , g a r d e n - inspired dishes — creamy burrata with heirloom tomatoes a n d s t o n e f r u i t sprinkled with bee pollen and basil seeds or ricotta-stuffed agnolotti in a shallow pool of spiced tomato coulis — is an exceptional treat. Doing so with a view of the spectacular sculpture by Rodin, Miró, and Matisse in the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden is truly a rarefied pleasure. Overlooking this exquisite sanctum, New York-based Bastion Restaurants (Cafe Leonelli in MFAH, La Table on Post Oak Boulevard) introduces its French fine- dining concept Le Jardinier, giving The view from Le Jardinier's dining room: a mighty Aristide Maillol bronze sculpture CLAUDIA CASBARIAN FOR JULIE SOEFER, HERE AND INTERIORS PHOTO 28

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