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Albert Roux to open a new restaurant in Houston

Fascinating bit of news today – Albert Roux will soon open his first US restaurant and he will be doing so in Houston. Chez Roux will anchor a collection of 10 restaurants at the La Torretta Del Lago Resort & Spa, a $130 million project that will incorporate an 18 hole golf course, a upscale spa, fine dining and a luxury hotel. image_thumb24

La Torretta will be located on Lake Conroe. While not exactly in Houston, it’s no further than certain destination restaurants are from San Francisco. I’d say an hour is more than a reasonable drive for a Michelin star level restaurant.

According to the release Albert Roux has no plans to become a full time Texan, but will pay special attention to the project as his first entry into the US market. Some stories mention Michel Roux Jr, Albert’s son and current chef de cuisine at a two Michelin star rated Le Gavroche in London, as a possible executive chef. Albert Roux himself will be appearing in the kitchen regularly and stage special culinary events throughout 2009 (awesome!).

Albert Roux and his brother are considered luminaries of French cuisine in England, opening Le Gavroche in London in the 60’s and single handedly putting England on the culinary map. The restaurant received the first three Michelin star award in the UK and has placed regularly on the Restaurant Magazine Top 50 list since.  

The Le Gavroche influence on food in London is profound – it’s kitchen has produced some of the biggest names in food, including Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White among many others.

I visited Brasserie Roux in the Sofitel St. James Hotel (located next to the Texas Embassy, strangely enough) last August and had one of the most memorable meals I had in London. Brasserie Roux is an upscale, but casual restaurant with relatively simple, almost rustic food. Despite being a rather low key outpost of the Roux empire, the quality of cooking and freshness of the ingredients were higher than I encountered in many upscale restaurants in London.

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Lunch at Brasserie Roux begins in a most civilized way – with an basket of crusty bread, soft butter and a plate of absolutely pristine radishes. In addition to classic brasserie dishes, the menu had an all-French section that roughly translated to a "taste of the times gone past", featuring forgotten recipes served in brasseries of old.

I opted for the duck liver terrine and the stewed rabbit leg served over pasta, off the old school menu. The terrine was incredibly smooth and had a much more pronounced liver flavor than commonly found in upscale French restaurants. The rabbit was even more impressive. Although I was questioning whether pasta dishes in fact appeared on brasserie menus in the past, and have since disappeared, it was a near flawless dish served with a sauce that was decidedly French in preparation and was a perfect backdrop for the rabbit and finely cubed vegetables from the braise.

If the quality of cooking I encountered at Brasserie Roux is any indication of what Chez Roux will deliver when it opens in Conroe, the restaurant will be a most impressive addition to the dining scene in Houston.

May 1, 2008   6 Comments