Thursday, February 9, 2012

Of Philippe-ing Out in Foodie Ville

Several years back, Nero's fair hometown of Houston was branded one of the fattest in the world. And while we Texans like to think of ourselves as large and in charge, this particularly biting claim to fame was a blow to our gutsy Wild West roots, our can-do attitude, our go-getterist, good ole boy ego -- a tarnish on our spit-shined iron star. 

The truth is that our nation's fourth largest city corrals some of the most diverse, multi-cultural, eclectic and innovative cuisines in the world. From mami and papi-owned taco trucks to more than a handful of Michelin star-worthy eateries, we've got it all here for the savoring and imbibing. The rub is that the very French, very staid Michelins aren't usually bestowed on taco trailblazers, nouveau foodie inventors or eclair clairvoyants. And so Texas chefs, much like the Lone Ranger or the Marlboro Man, ride solo, lassoing maverick techniques and rustling up new dishes as they go -- drawing in eager fans through more than rope tricks.

Enter Philippe Restaurant + Lounge into the ring, a Franco-Texan mixed-breed bar and bistro helmed by chef Philippe Schmit. With brains, brawn and even a few Brahman hides by way of upholstery, Schmit has been dubbed the "French Cowboy" for his creative spin. Portions are modest -- that's the French part -- but always infused with some clearly-noted Texas kick. A revolving display of artwork punctuates the many trompe-l'oeil wall panels, and for those whose souls are nourished by more than food, an "Art Menu" can be perused alongside the eats. 

Breaking bread is best done à deux, so Nero and a pardner-in-crime saddled up for the ride. It was a delectably-devised but easygoing meal. The ambiance was sophisticated but casually so. Dessert for Nero was the new kid on the block -- a parsnip bundt cake topped with a scoop of Shiner Bock-infused ice cream. Nero staggered out of the swinging doors punch-drunk with enthusiasm and ambition, illuminated by big new ideas, stylishly spurred on. It was Trademark Texas.


Moomser said...

hmmmm.... looks yummy!

Vicky Abrahamsson said...

loved! ;)

candicecowin said...

You two look hawt enjoying your haute cuisine! Yeeeehaaaw for lunches with girlfriends!

Kecia said...

What!? Those earrings are ridiculous! Do tell...where are they from!?

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Cara Moomser,

It was fantastic.

Baci, Alcira

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Dear Vicky,

Is was fantastic -- and in such stylish company too ;)

Chau, Alcira

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Dearest Candita,

Salutations -- we've gotta tap that next time you head into town.

Cheers, Alcira

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Hi there Kecia,

Aren't those earrings sublime?
They're by jewelry designer Adia Kibur and were purchased online.
She seems to be popping up quite a bit this Spring.
Happy Hunting, Alcira


Urban flâneuse, armchair observer, absent-minded scribbler, occasional epicure and carpool line cultural attaché, my nom de plume is Nero. Join me as I catalog a compilation of earthly delights and stuff that I dig. Alcira Molina-Ali



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