PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston May 2023

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Two Intimate New French Boîtes with Stellar Chefs at the Helm B enjy Levit has done it again. After we mourned the pandemic loss of his eateries The Classic and his namesake Benjy's in the Village, the stylish restaurateur brings us Eau Tour, a chic French-inspired boîte just around the corner from his Rice Village eateries Local Foods and Lees Den. The name translates loosely to "water journey" and it's Levit's aim, along with talented chef Kent Domas (The Classic, Alice Blue, Bernadine's), to create a community-style bistro that feels like a lively, intimate dinner party with great music, cocktail glasses clinking, and dishes passed around the table. Enter the 2,000-square-foot second-floor space through a discreet side entrance and head upstairs past vintage black-and- white French photos through a stairwell painted with a cheeky riot of colorful camo patterns. The dining room seats 60, plus 11 at the bar and several more under the By Laurann Claridge. Photography Jenn Duncan. shaded canopy of live oaks on the terrace. The restaurant has a decidedly '70s groove, care of Garnish Design. Levit collaborated with the team to preserve the original terrazzo floors and D'Hanis brick walls, a holdover from the 1960s when the space served as a bank. The menu is an absolute delight, dotted with approachably priced plates that inspire sharing (although I would love to devour some of them without any help). I'm schooled in classic French cuisine and appreciate Domas' homage to the rigors of French culinary technique. Start with a specialty cocktail (all $14), a French Kiss non-boozy one ($8), or select a wine from the comprehensive list culled from France's most lauded wine-producing regions, as well as varietals grown on American soil with a French sensibility. The list, curated by Ryan Cooper (formerly a sommelier with Goodnight Hospitality and Uchi), seeks to capture the value found in Parisian neighborhood bistros, with prices marked below industry standards. Ditto that for the caviar section of the menu, labeled "Caviar and Roe for the People." Levit aims to price caviar like their wine program (in this case, half the price you might find elsewhere). "Caviar says 'fun,' and we love the umami quality of it," he says. "We wanted to price it in such a way that people could experience it a little more frequently." There's a rotating selection; when we were there, prices ranged from $17 for Paramount seaweed caviar to $140 for Calvisius Ars Italica Oscietra Royal, with numerous options in between, each served with traditional accouterments: sieved egg, chopped chives, crème fraiche, and for fun, lattice-cut gaufrette chips made with Kennebec potatoes. Fruits de mer feature a changing assortment of oysters, such as Murder Point (Gulf Coast) and East Coast options, served with a squeeze bottle of homemade hot sauce, cocktail sauce, and mignonette to drizzle atop (half-dozen $18 – $21; dozen $36 – 42). Bread doesn't get much better than Eau Tour's warm, house-made variety. The seeded sourdough is served with a whipped ricotta, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with Maldon salt and fennel pollen ($8). Order the EAU TOUR Caviar and Roe for the People at Eau Tour Mean Left-Hook cocktail at Eau Tour Oysters at Eau Tour 72

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