Husband and wife Monica Bui and Chef Phillippe Verpiand opened their French restaurant, Etoile Cuisine et Bar in Uptown Plaza in the same location that Andre’s, another French restaurant, used to be in about 10 years ago.
I love the location because of the ample parking in Uptown Plaza, its proximity to several other shops that can be visited for a full day of adventure and because I loved Andre’s. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel some level of nostalgia enjoying a Gallic meal on a patio I frequented in my youth.
Service at Etoile Cuisine et Bar is executed with precision by a waitstaff that demonstrates genuine care for the overall dining experience. There’s nothing I appreciate more than a restaurant that offers a high level of service with a feather light touch.
Monica manages the front of the house, while Chef Verpiand handles the back of the house where he draws on experiences he gained working at several Michelin star restaurants growing up in France.
In 2015 Chef Verpiand was recognized as a Maître Cuisinier de France (Master Chef of France), accrediting him as an expert in French cuisine. He is joined by fellow Frenchmen, Chef Phillippe Schmit and Frederic Perrier as the other two Master Chef’s of France in Houston.
With both patio seating and indoor seating, we opted to dine al fresco as it was one of the first cool nights in Houston. For an appetizer, I ordered the Escargots Bourguignonne and my dining partner chose the Tartare de Saumon.
The parsley buttered escargots were cooked to perfection as they weren’t rubbery nor too tender. They were large, meaty and paired perfectly with the house made brioche.
This was followed up with my entree, Coquilles Saint-Jacques; which is large succulent scallops atop polenta, mushrooms, garlic and seasoned butter. Much like my escargot appetizer, the scallops were cooked to the perfect temperature, ensuring the texture remained intact.
My dining partner ordered the Filet de Boeuf “Au Poivre”; which to be honest looked as good as it tasted. It came with a side of french fries and an 8 oz. beef tenderloin cooked medium-rare with black peppercorn cognac sauce. I took several bites of it and honestly, I loved my scallops but next time I go back that is what I am ordering.
Lastly for dessert I ordered the Creme Prise a La Pistache et Fruits Rouges; which is basically a pistachio cream with fruits and crunchy topping. If you follow any of my restaurant reviews, then you know I will always order anything pistachio and while this dessert was delicious as a dessert, unfortunatelyy it didn’t have the depth of pistachio flavor I demand.
Pistachio is one of those flavors that people like me seek out, so when it doesn’t deliver the rich pistachio taste, then it makes me wish I had ordered something else.
In the case of my dining partner, she ordered the Profiteroles, which were essentially not bad, but nothing to go out of your way for.
On our next go around we are going to aim for the creme brule and the almond cake as those were our first two choices, but we decided to try something other than cake and I personally can’t resist pistachio.
In total our tab came out to about $130.00 +/- before tip. In my view that was well worth it as I’ve spent triple that on dinner worth half that.
The Houston restaurant scene is incrementally reaching levels consistent with a city our size. We haven’t only organically grown our own culinary talent, but have also attracted restauranteurs like Chef Verpiand who came from California and one of my other Uptown, Houston favorites, Musaafer’s is an out of towner’s project.
Pro tip: I recommend making a reservation prior to visiting if you plan to sit on the patio.