Monthly Archives: November 2006

Bistro Le Cep

If you’ve looked at this website much, you know that we really like French food.  (We don’t care what you call them, as long as you call us when the frites are ready.)  So, we ventured out to the western suburbs to try Bistro Le Cep.  There’s no question that Toto wasn’t inside the Loop.  The atmosphere was quaint, somewhat kitsch, punctuated with the not so dulcet (altho hardworking and well-intentioned) tones of an accordion player.  You haven’t experienced life until you’ve heard “New York, New York” played on the accordion.

We’d heard good things about the food which, while enjoyable, did not impress us.  The complimentary pate was agreeable enough.  The lump crab meat and fennel salad was fresh and well executed.  The onion soup was a traditional version.  The steak au poivre may have been the best dish of the night, as our other entrĂ©e — the duck confit special — was disappointing.   We try this dish at many French restaurants since we like it, and it’s a good test of the kitchen.  It takes a lot of work to get it right; this version lacked in effort as the meat was not as rich as it should have been, and it suffered from a real faux pas — the skin was not crispy.  Due to copious amounts of butter, we did enjoy all the vegetables (asparagus, green beans and spinach), but the frites were soggy.

The wine list was reasonably priced and, altho it was the ‘burbs, the glasses were appropriate for a cabernet sauvignon. 

Although a pleasant enough experience, we were disappointed.  The owner, Joe Mannke, used to own the highly-rated Rotisserie for Beef and Bird.  We had expected better.

11112 Westheimer



We had occasion to lunch separately on two consecutive days at this Houston institution.  Brennan’s was one of the last places in town to require that men wear a jacket (supplying a jacket with the scarlet letter “B” on the lapel if you arrived without, which you only did once), but that appears to be a vestige of the past.  The restaurant is as lovely as ever; in fact, in the 25 years since at least one of us first dined there, it doesn’t seem to have changed much.  We didn’t eat in the courtyard but have always found it to be a very lovely setting.

The service was very good.  On one day, it was slightly less than perfect but not a fatal flaw.  It is a curious practice to replace water and iced tea with new glasses rather than simply do refills, although that avoids the age-old problem of having continually to readjust the lemon and/or sweetener balance.

With respect to the food, the turtle soup continues to be a very popular choice, with nobody avoiding the sherry even at non-drinking lunches.  There were no food disappointments among a total of 14 diners.  The crab cakes were particularly good; the crab and fried green tomato salad got raves, as did the fried oysters; the steak frites was a popular choice.  The ever popular Brennan’s dessert — Bananas Foster — continued to delight, as did the pecan pie parfait.

All in all, this is a great restaurant, well-deserving of the praise it receives.  And, if you work downtown, it can’t be beat for a business lunch — an opportunity one should take since the prices, even at lunch, are up there.

3300 Smith Street