There is an old saying that has been around for longer than we can remember: “Out with the old, in with the new.” It applies to many situations and can be used to describe both positive and negative occurrences. No matter the story that forces these words from your lips (although we would love to hear the details) it is typically a cause for celebration (for example, a new car, a new boyfriend – you get the drift).
With that said, Philippe Restaurant has gone through quite a transition lately. The unexpected departure of its namesake and executive chef Philippe Schmit may have come at the most opportune time. Just to be frank, Philippe Restaurant has always focused on French cuisine “with a Texas twist” and although Houstonians have flocked to Philippe in droves, it wasn’t solely for their love of French food; it was a destination that offered a vibrant scene and an even better wine list (by way of Vanessa Trevino-Boyd). We welcome the changes with open arms and sometimes a little “reinvention” is just what the doctor ordered.
Call us superstitious, but we are firm believers that good things happen in three’s:
A New Chef
As Chef Philippe Schmit has now moved on to pursue other projects, Executive Chef Manuel Pucha has stepped in and the transition seemed fairly seamless. Formerly holding the title of chef de cusine, Chef Pucha had been shadowing Chef Schmit for the past year as he focused his efforts elsewhere. We were excited to meet Chef Pucha and wondered how much the menu would change and what direction he would take with the menu. You will find that Chef Pucha takes a simplistic approach to his cooking techniques. And although his background is in French style cooking, we would describe his cuisine as “Modern American” with an emphasis on comfort foods. He is not looking to completely overhaul the menu, but he will make it his own.
A New Patio
You know we love a great patio! Apparently the existing “plush” downstairs lounge wasn’t enough because Philippe Restaurant is now sporting some stylish new digs. So named THE Patio, it will take your happy hour, dinner, and “I just need a cocktail” visits to the next level. THE Patio is more than just a place to grab a bite outdoors. Closest to the right entrance of the patio, it has its own “lounge” suited with inviting pillows in a bench-like formation. And don’t worry about too much sun or even a drizzle of rain because the patio has been equipped with its own awning. It can even serve as a great spot for a private event as the space is enclosed yet still spacious. And if it wasn’t sexy enough, on select nights, THE Patio will feature live music from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Add that to the new bar menu and you’ve got yourself a date.
A New Menu
The new menu is a lot of new and an improvement on some of the old favorites. For you Philippe regulars, they’ve kept a few of the favorites on the menu just in case you are in the mood to take a trip down memory lane. They understand that change is harder for some, so this will allow those folks to take baby steps. They just improved on the flavor, and took those dishes from good to great! During a recent eight-course wine dinner, we got to enjoy some of the new and classic dishes. The evening offered up many dishes that left us “speaking in yums” (the secret language of food lovers, if you were wondering), but there were a few that stood shoulders above the rest in our books.
The improved, and always one of our faves, was the Duck Confit (frisee, pickled pear, apple butter, and balsamic vinaigrette) which was paired with Syrah Syrocco by Alain Graillot & Thalvin; Zanata, Morocco 2010. We’ve got two words for you – crispy skin! Our next show stealer was the Blackened Flounder from the Gulf (scoops of butternut squash, red beets, purple potato, fennel puree, celery + white chocolate), which was paired with a Riesling, Leitz Out, by Joseph Leitz; Rheingan, Germany 2012. This course was not only gorgeous, but the dance of all those flavors was nothing short of stellar. Think about it – celery with a white chocolate sauce is interesting enough; but then Chef Pucha went and added butternut squash and purple potatoes to the mix. Let’s just say when no one was looking we licked the plates.
I think we have given you three good reasons to check out Philippe Restaurant. Whether you are a regular customer or looking to try something new, this spot will give you all that you desire…and more.
Philippe Restaurant + Lounge
1800 Post Oak Blvd
Houston, TX 77056
Urban Swank did receive a complimentary tasting, but the opinions expressed are our own.