This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven't tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It's probably worth it.

Sep 1, 2010

chez roux.

Chez Roux - located within the La Torretta Resort in Lake Conroe, begged for a visit being Albert Roux's first American establishment and headed up by Michael Gray, the only Michelin-star rated chef in Texas.  It's reasonable tasting menu prices were also tempting that the one hour drive sounded completely worth it.  But now that we've been I can easily answer the question:  was worth it or wasn't it?

The husband had made the reservations.. weeks prior, as well as confirmed on the morning of to ensure that we would be dining at the chef's table that night.  All seemed positive besides getting slightly lost on the way there.  Upon arrival, we were quickly seated at what was definitely not the chef's table.  Inquiring further, the hostess bluntly stated that the chef's table was already reserved.  How odd.. didn't WE reserve it?  With no apology or even an acknowledgement that the room was either double booked or perhaps most likely we had been bumped for 'VIPs', it was a vexing beginning to the meal.
As for the ambiance, the view was superb if not slighlty annoying moments prior to sunset for those facing the windows, the glare was almost unbearable, that i noticed several patrons donning sunglasses.  there were approximately 10 tables not counting the chef's table nor the outdoor tables.  it seemed the bar area and wine room took up half the space, while a few art deco light fixtures were hung over the booths.   the place was sadly unfilled for a saturday night.
we decided to order what we came for.. the menu prestige.
the amuse bouche was a side of crab meat with a crunchy black sesame top along with a shot of tomato gazpacho.  the crab was an excellent mix with the texture and slight sweetness of the topping while the tomato gazpacho was a stark contrast with it's bold flavoring and almost overpowering almost as if it was a condensed version.  this left me eagerly awaiting the rest of the meal... which is what a good amuse bouche should do.
Sautéed gulf shrimps over an Israeli couscous salad.  the shrimps were fresh and tasty, matching well with the salad. it made me want to make things with israeli couscous, and wish that this came in an entrée sized portion.
the next course was a fillet of cod over an artichoke barigoule.  i'm generally hesitant for cooked fish, this was perfectly prepared, dense yet flaky with a perfectly crisp skin.  the barigoule was delicious and added the much needed acidic aspect to the fish. 
the third main, was sauteed veal kidneys served with two mustard sauces and an onion compote.  i can see how this could pose to be an acquired taste for some.  those not acustomed to offal may want to stear clear.  even the husband wasn't a fan, but really that's just how kidney's taste.  They were seared well along with the sauce and onions. i enjoyed this.
Next up was the wild boar chop with fennel seed gnocchi.  this was the first time for me to try wild boar, and it wasn't a great experience.  they must be very lean animals, because the meat was extremely tough, that it was difficult to even cut through let alone chew. while the gnocchi was browned on the outside and a bit too soft on the inside for my liking.  this dish ultimately fell flat.  
the last course of the mains was the soufflé of Texas gold cheddar cheese, with corn kernel cream.  from online reviews this sounds like a dish everyone must try.  on the regular menu i saw it presented under the starters section, which is probably when it should have been served.  the cheddar soufflé was actually quite delightful, light with a cheddar taste that wasn't overpowering.  i could definitely imagine eating this at a decadent brunch.  the corn kernel cream was unfortunate, and over-salted, creating a chaos in my mouth. 
the desserts ended on a high note with an assortment of delicious items from sorbet to a mini molten chocolate cake, and of course the obligatory petit fours.

service for the rest of the night was great, if only it had started off on the right note, the whole meal probably would've been that much more enjoyable.  the meal on the other hand started great and slowly digressed until desserts. so it did end on a high note.  overall, it was a good meal, 7 out of 10 the husband would say.  but i'm not entirely sold on the idea that you couldn't get such a tasting menu in town.. without the hour drive.

chez roux
600 La torretta blvd
Montgomery, TX 77356

(936) 448-4400