Saturday, August 23, 2008

Old World Service at La Colombe d'Or and Decent Food

This is the last of my Houston Restaurant Week reviews. At first glance La Colombe d'Or is everything I think of when I think of fine dining; charming, elegant, and outstanding service. Unfortunately I found the food uninspired.

Before I get started I have to say that lately I am eating way too much food at a meal and my waist line is worse because of it. This totally freaks me out and makes eating out less of a pleasure. I am going to stop eating out for a while, at least until I can get some equilibrium back!

When I eat out dinner, normally I like to order an appetizer or two and or combine it with a salad and a glass of wine and I am happy. Perhaps even share a main course. These multi course dinners are more food than I like to eat at a meal.

I wanted to try La Colombe d'Or , because it is a pretty restaurant, in an old historic house in Montrose.

The dining room is elegant looking and the place oozes charm. Parking was not a problem and I was able to park right around the corner. As I walked in the door, I was warmly greeted. We had 7:30 reservations and M. my dining companion was already seated when I came in at 7:20. Water had been poured for both of us and my menu was waiting at the table. The dining room was pretty empty. The look of the place reminds me of places I would dine with my grandparents when I was growing up.

We started with an amuse bouche, which was a scallop on a piece of toast. It was very fishy tasting and had to much lemon juice, perhaps to mask the fishy taste? I think it may have been a frozen scallop to start.

We each had ordered a house wine, wines by the glass were few and far between and all we were told about the ones we ordered was that one was a Merlot and the other a Cabernet Sauviogon . They also had a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay and maybe another unbranded selection or two. The mediocre wines were $10.50 a glass.

Just like Gravitas, they took our whole order at once. (Which if you recall was amongst my many complaint about my experience there.) But the service was never rushed like at Gravitas. Next came the appetizer course, M. had ordered the onion soup and I the escargots. M.'s onion soup was delicious, with a nice strong broth and lots of gooey gruyere cheese melted on top. My escargots came on a platter swimming in a garlic butter sauce, very traditional but not anything extraordinary. By the way the bread was fantastic, nice and crusty, which was perfect for sopping up the buttery garlic sauce that accompanied my escargots.

For the main course M. had the Pasta Portofino, which was lobster, crabmeat, and crawfish in a cream sauce on a bed of homemade linguini. The seafood was cooked perfectly and the sauce rich and creamy but not overpowering. I found the pasta a bit too al dente, but M. thought it was perfect.

For my main, I had the redfish cooked with herbs (trying to watch my waistline.) It was just a bit on the side of overcooked, but tasty none the less.

It was the vegetables that accompanied both dishes that were really good to me. It consisted of a baby carrot, asparagus, broccoli, fennel, tomato, and potato. Each one was perfectly cooked, appropriately crunchy and topped with some fresh herbs. The presentation of both dishes was wonderful as well. At least at this dinner we both took home doggy bags.

For dessert we both opted for the chocolate mousse with a coulis of berries. This consisted of a generous portion of white and dark chocolate mouse in an oval shape , surround by a fresh strawberry, blueberries, a raspberry and some blackberries. I thoroughly enjoyed the dessert, it had just the right balance of creaminess and was sweetness.

This was not a knock your socks off dinner and at their regular prices I would not hurry back. I enjoy more eclectic and innovative food then this. But the service was outstanding, the surroundings elegant and except for the amuse bouche and the slightly overcooked redfish, all was quite tasty, well prepared, and beautifully presented. If you enjoy predictable food, in an elegant surrounding and cherish the days of excellent service, you will not be disappointed at La Colombe d'Or.

By the way, since M. was parked in the back and they offered to walk her to her car.

I want to reiterate, I appreciate this old world charm that seems to be so rare these days. I just wish I found the food more compelling, and wines by the glass more interesting, as I want to frequent a restaurant that understands that fine dining is a total experience, not just about showcasing the food.

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