Its Christmas! Other people are still calling it Restaurant Week. To me this is the time to try a couple of the 11,000 restaurants in a city that considers eating out a competitive sport.
First up was a more recent entry into nouveau French arena in Midtown, Artisans
Artisans is a little more upscale than most of the offerings in Midtown, which largely walk the line between club and restaurant. I’d classify it mostly as a strategic date or event venue, however it is still casual enough to pop by randomly on Wednesday night on the way home from work. Glass partitions, fluer de lys patterns, light wood tones and comfortable seating define the peaceful but busy space anchoring a high-traffic intersection along Louisiana St.
Its not entirely fair to judge a restaurant by what they offer during Restaurant Week since the menus are entirely abbreviated. However, in my opinion, this is their chance to draw in new loyal customers, so those offerings should shine.
This place shines. From the one main-one dessert-$20 format I chose Trout Almondine and Chocolate Mousse – both were exceptional.
Trout Almondine: Simple enough but the flavour depends mostly on the quality of the fish. Squeaky fresh and pan-fried with a little herb-butter to the point that the outside was golden brown and almost crusty. Despite appearances, the trout was still flaky and moist. Served with a oyster mushroom risotto cooked to toothy perfection with large chucks of oyster mushroom still intact and a braised endive, which, to me, had a pleasant pickled flavour and was good contrast to the rest of the plate.
Chocolate Mousse: Oh sure, you’re thinking how can you possibly go wrong with this dessert? I’ll tell you how – you can make it to take like Hershey’s flavored Cool Whip, you can make it too sweet, you can ruin the consistency and make it more like Jell-O pudding. While its easy in principle, its difficult in practice. I’m happy to report their rendition is excellent – dense chocolate flavour, slightly sweetened, thick while still maintaining the airy quality characteristic of mousse. A little vanilla creme, a little raspberry, you know, so you think you are eating healthy-ER.
Perfect. Even though our party of 8 were all Restaurant Week participants, therefore fixed in the profit model of a restaurant, we had excellent service from start to finish. Even when the computers went down the staff never missed a beat reverting back to old-school methods of writing on paper and mechanical credit card processing. They will get my return business.
Its French and therefore expensive. Lunch is reasonable particularly on the Restaurant Week path, however after surveying the standard menu, you should be aware that standard dinner mains hover around $30-35. This is still in range given the quality, presentation and service.
If you are in the Houston area between 1-30 August and feel the urge to try a high-quality French venue, Artisans would be an excellent Restaurant Week choice.
Lunch: August 2014
Artisans | 3201 Louisiana | HTX 77006