PaperCity Magazine

November 2017- Houston

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Page 105 of 107

104 A new luxury hotel is making its debut in downtown Houston: Hotel Alessandra and its inspired restaurant, Lucienne. The ele- gant European-bred sister of Hotel Sorella CityCentre and Hotel Valencia on San Antonio's Riverwalk, Hotel Alessandra is as refined as the prov- enance suggests. A tasteful entrance with a discreet bronze-clad porte cochère is a subtle precursor to a dazzling two-story ivory-marble split staircase. One side deposits you at the reception desk; the other, into the sleek Bardot Lounge, an ode to American- style bars in London at the turn of the last century. The architecture was created by the San Francisco arm of Gensler. The interiors are care of Lauren Rottet's Rottet Studio; this is the Houston-based international firm's first hotel built from the ground up. The Alessandra's restaurant, Lucienne, is helmed by executive chef Jose Hernandez, a former pastry chef who worked in some of the best kitchens from New York to Houston before turning to the savory side of the menu six years ago. He elevated the cuisine at Hotel Sorella's restaurant, Radio Milano, with a much-lauded contemporary take on Italian. For Lucienne, he conjures a continental- style menu with inspiration drawn from countries along the Mediterranean. Lucienne is open for lunch and dinner (Bardot Lounge hosts breakfast). The airy venue has charming toile de jouy at the windows, marble-topped tables, and seafoam-green upholstered banquettes. Go à la carte at dinner, or select a six- or four-course meal ($55) meal ($75 and $55, respectively). We swooned over the cauliflower crepe, a soufflé-like concoction with mornay sauce ($12), then indulged in risotto with butternut squash, comte cheese, and a soft egg ($25). The lamb tartare, created in the classic French style, is a beautiful change from the classic beef variety, contained within a border of Parmesan cheese shards with a tiny uncooked quail's egg and toast points ($18). Lobster is presented alongside a pillow-like bed of fennel bread pudding, topped with beurre blanc ($40). Hernandez's Heritage Angus rib eye is cut off the bone and served with bordelaise sauce and potatoes cooked in foie gras ($38). For dessert, try the pistachio vacherin and the apple tart built on a base of pâté feuilletée — prepared in-house, as is everything Hernandez creates,. Portions are perfectly sized and artfully presented; the service, led by GM Ludovic Poirier, is very much on point. Lucienne at Hotel Alessandra, 1070 Dallas St., 713.242.8555, hotelalessandra- BY LAURANN CLARIDGE BONJOUR, MADAME LUCIENNE Gianduja dessert at Lucienne Halibut and zucchini PHOTOGRAPHY RALPH SMITH

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