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Artisans is located in Midtown, just on the edge of Downtown Houston. When pulling up to the space, I was immediately drawn in by the rustic entrance to a modern building. Valet parking awaits you at the main entrance on the corner of Louisiana and Stuart streets.
Arriving at the restaurant, you are given a warm greeting from the hostess just inside the front door. The inviting interior of the restaurant consists of exposed brick walls and different table options ranging from cozy booths to high top tables. A large counter overlooking the open-air kitchen is ideal for diners! They can enjoy their meal while watching the expert team of chefs work their magic.
The hubs and I were dining with the judge and the architect on this occasion. French food is always better when shared with those you love! Our party started its’ evening off at the bar. A staple on the Artisan cocktail menu is their version of a prohibition era cocktail, the French 77. This drink is a perfect mix of bubbles, lemon and gin with a splash of elderflower liqueur. The hubs ordered the Negroni. A classic in its own right, the Negroni is a gin cocktail with Campari and sweet vermouth. Both were delicious and right on point!
We were starving, so our party decided to grab our table and get dinner started. The hostess showed us to a high table adjacent the open kitchen where we had a great view of the action. Our team of servers were kind and knowledgeable about the menu. Several pre-fix and chef’s tasting menus are available at Artisans. We decided to pave our own path and order a la cart.
We ordered a healthy round of appetizers and main dishes so we could really get the feel for le menu. Meanwhile we got started on the house-made french loaf and fresh butter sent out from the kitchen. Fantastic! This gave us a chance to look over the wine list. Artisans has an extensive list with something for everyone. We decided on a Sancere and a Cab Franc. Both were brought to the table quickly and fit our menu selections.
First out were those appetizers: Les Noix de Saint-Jacques, Le Foie Gras, Carpaccio de Chevreuil Enrobé au Café, and Le Canard, La Caille. The Saint-Jacques were two perfectly seared scallops in a heavenly beurre blanc with a mini-lobster cappuccino on the side. Heaven help, ya’ll! The Foie Gras was atop a demi glaze pear and toasted brioche. This was rich and succulent. The Carpaccio was a fresh take on the traditional beef dish. Venison Carpaccio with trumpet mushroom, roasted beets and goat cheese. And the La Canard: a spiced duck breast, quail leg confit, and foie gras. Can you really ever order too much Foie Gras? I think not! Especially when you’re in a French restaurant such as this.
Our server mentioned the special soup du jour was a creamy mushroom bisque not to be missed. We ordered one and were not disappointed. I am not sure a soup can steal the show, but this one almost did. It was a huge hit at our table!
Artisans has an amazing selection of fresh seafood on their menu! We decided to order several. Below are some items that are must-havs! The Mérou en Chemise de Maïs Frais Sauce au Maïs Fumée, Courge D’Hiver Choux de Bruxelles. This dish of flakey grouper crusted in what reminded me of my momma’s corn fritters was amazing! It was topped with crispy brussel sprouts. Another favorite was the Le Poisson du Golfe. The pan seared gulf snapper had an aromatic saffron tomato broth and a bacon polenta cake. This tasted as amazing as it sounds! They had me at bacon! And lastly, the Poisson du Golfe du Mexique, was definitely enjoyed at our table. This dish is a fresh gulf cobia filet pan seared and resting on top of crawfish bread pudding. Oh ya’ll, this bread pudding could have been a meal unto itself!
The hubs decided to be the rebel and order a big juicy steak. There are several great options here at Artisans. He went with the Entrecôte de Boeuf a prime ribeye caramelized with mustard for this unexpected sweet crust on the outside. There are three accoutrement options here: garlic confit, onion jam and a foie gras aioli which make each bite new and exciting! The hubs said the steak was cooked perfectly and one of the most unique he has had in Houston.
PHOTOGRAPHY: AMBER FATHEREE