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Georges Guy goes rustic

I was a bit surprised when I got an email from Chez George that the restaurant in lower Westheimer was closed. Chez George was hardly a regular destination for me, but over the last few months I have gone to a couple of special dinners Georges Guy hosted in his monthly Tour de France series highlighting a various regions of France. Both times the food was expertly prepared and my (should be) committed Frankophile dining companion admitted that it was the closest he has gotten to dining in France this side of the Pacific ocean. At $49 without wine it was a great way to take a trip to Provance or Alsace without getting on a plane (I’ll do a couple of posts about the dinners later).

 

The email mentioned that Guy will soon be opening a new restaurant called Don Camillo in west Houston. The prospect of a great chef giving up classic French cuisine to churn out mass produced suburban Italian made me downright depressed, so I didn’t even consider visiting the place until a friend told me that I should reconsider.

 

Turns out that Bistro Don Camillo is only Italian in disguise. What this restaurant does exceptionally well is fantastic rustic French at very reasonable prices, which isn’t as easy to find in Houston you might think. The charm of a tiny house with creaky wooden floors has been replaced with a nondescript shopping strip location that has plenty of parking, which is more valued in Houston than ambiance. Italian sounding name should draw crowds in much more than Chez George people associate with special occasion dining. Just in case the name doesn’t seal the deal, the sign out front awkwardly explains that the restaurant serves the “Aromas & Flavors of the French-Italian Riviera”. Although much of the geriatric clientèle seems to have followed Guy from Chez Georges, they have their 30-something kids in tow now. Jackets and formal dresses are nowhere to be found.

 

Once inside though, things begin to come into focus. The menu features the aromas and flavors of France more prominently than any other region. Pizza and pasta now have a place the menu, including a number of options for vegetarians, which makes repeated visits a lot more likely for me than before. The white board has the daily features and French regional specialty dishes, allowing those with short attention span to amuse themselves with food travel in the Tour de France mode, if they find pizza too boring.

 

After my first dinner at Bistro Don Camillo I walked out thinking that Georges Guy has finally found the winning formula. I’ll post some details at a later date. Meanwhile, go check it out yourself.

February 2, 2008   No Comments