Texas Food Editor Pat Sharpe once told me during an interview that she gets excited about every new restaurant she visits saying, “When I walk into a restaurant I still think this could be the best meal I’ve ever had.” I love the sentiment, and it’s one I keep in mind when I visit new spots. You can see more of her interview here.
A new restaurant in the Museum District made me think of Pat and those words. It’s one of the best new spots I’ve visited in awhile and not just because the food is good.
Bistro Menil sits on the grounds of the Menil Collection campus. The small, unassuming, tastefully done cottage fits right in on the manicured green lawn. Even the parking area is meticulously landscaped, and the result is charming.
Inside, the look is modern and minimal with tons of natural light pouring in from the many windows—an instant mood lifter, an inviting atmosphere. And then, there’s the cuisine!
Bistro Menil is directed by Chef Greg Martin who says he’s been working on the menu for the past year—and it’s a sizable selection of items! You may recall Martin from his tenure with the RDG folks at Café Annie.
Our lunch visit began with the Eggplant “Fries” served with a tasty anchovy aioli. Betcha can’t eat just one! We practically emptied the bowl.
Next came a savory Caramelized Onion, Mascarpone, Pancetta & Crème Fraîche Flat Bread. The flavors were wonderful, but I’m guessing they’re still working on perfecting the crust. Still, I’d order it again. I trust this chef.
There were a number of wonderful salad choices, but we skipped right to the pizzas and absolutely adored the Manchego and Jamon with Brava Sauce – ham and cheese with the lightest of tomato sauces and an absolutely stellar crust that was baked in Bistro Menil’s authentic Italian wood burning oven.
Other delights — the crab cakes, a Dungeness delight with minimal breading. The Cassoulet with sausage and duck was also a standout on this visit. The French classic was rich and flavorful without being too heavy as some cassoulets can be. And, the delicate sea scallops in a butter sauce topped with caviar were quite good.
Desserts also shine here. Our Lemon Curd Tart was velvety smooth with just the right balance of bright lemon zest.
The wine list is extensive, reasonable and adventurous. This bistro also offers wine on tap–8 house wines by the cask, along with some creative cocktails. I’m already planning a return for dinner.
For more great food and wine ideas, head to Goodtaste.tv.