A split second decision forced my body to march past this vixen on a mission… the hostess. Paupers beware, for nose curling pretention slash frown wrinkle scowls are the first frightful feat to surpass upon entering… Philippe. Whether it be to investigate my intentions or simply say… “Seat yourself, peddler.”… Catch me if you can!
An interior design team must have been sent from the Queen herself, for Philippe’s décor is illustrious. Make your way past the lounge area to reach a spectacular bar riddled with impeccable design. The stellar talent responsible for this masterpiece, which is… Philippe, are architect Shafik Rifaat & interior designer Lauren Rottet.
Chef Philippe collected many items used in constructing the downstairs design. Pictures from his past adorn the walls of the first floor, putting a magnificent personal touch to the contemporary work of art developed. The décor never stops enticing, even demanding a double take in the… restroom.
Owner- executive chef Philippe Schmit acquired his nickname, The French Cowboy, after a trip to the rodeo cook-off several years ago. His cowboy hat & boots, accented with European flair, resulted in this flashy new alter ego. He wears it well, with sex appeal easily exiting his mouth with every French accented word… spoken.
After taking the staggering staircase to the second floor, more awe-inspiring beauty begins. This private dining room has the power to stop travelers in their tracks. Seating as many as 16, the splendiferous chandelier towers above the endless table & goat hide chairs. What would really tie the room together would be me sitting at this table with… 15 Star Chefs.
Please & Thanks.
The open kitchen is placed directly behind the bar, adjacent to the dining room. Managers scurry as executive chef Philippe Schmit sweatily creates nearby. Behind the bar, a sommelier, sporting an attitude bigger than Napa, eagerly checks the wine inventory for the night.
Um, I’m sorry, you may be super important and all, but I’m just wondering if it’s necessary to sprout 2 horns and 46 blood thirsty fangs at mortals merely questioning… happy hour. Some humans are new to this castle we call Philippe, so relax. Let’s just go ahead, without wasting another second, and give this wine connoisseur a… Double Scary Sommelier Wow.
Why is this sommelier ready to kick my cupcakes to the Post Oak curb? Well, happy hour enlightenment arrived from the manager, stating… Anyone wishing to experience happy hour happiness must make their way to the downstairs bar. There, a small kitchen waits, solely existing to send out all happy hour items. The upstairs kitchen is for full fledged dining divas & divos. Comprenez-vous ?
Note to humans: If a manager walks up while a sommelier places you in a choke hold, expect to receive this gratifying gift… complimentary house-made happy hour fries with harissa ketchup.
Philippe offers an assortment of French cheeses during happy hour as well. This $14, cough, happy hour item is served with green apple jelly, fig, green olive mousse, as well as pear & port compote.
For $8, one may enjoy tapenade, eggplant “caviar” & chickpea puree with house-made bread. Two salads are listed, with one being beyond basic and the other well above average exciting. The frisée salad is served with two poached eggs and bacon. You may always request… no bacon.
If choosing not to move on with your life and sticking with the happy hour menu, the vanilla cheesecake is a must. Served with berries and ice cream, it will satisfy your sweet tooth for merely… 8 American dollars.
A moment of overwhelming restaurateur slash real estate mogul spasticness entered my bloodstream upon realization that Steve Zimmerman, of La Colombe D’Or, was sitting only a few feet away. While dining with infinitely important French consulates, sashaying over was the only option. After conducting a mini conversation, I succeeded in relinquishing my stalker status, bid farewell, and returned to my crab & avocado dip.
The appetizers are listed in the “Flirtations” section of the menu. Crab & avocado dip with lime, cilantro, and olive oil emulsion is light & flavorful. Philippe lists a delectable deer delicacy, double cough… country venison paté with pickled vegetables & burgundy mustard. For those not interested in stomping on Bambi’s dreams, there is always the exciting buttermilk fried calamari with espellette mayo.
The beet salad with spinach, blue cheese, and avocado dressing arrived perky fresh with an alluring presentation. Everything about this salad is naturally satisfying. Another salad offered during lunch is the almost always snoozer… garden salad. Though sounding like a snore, the ingredients are somewhat exciting… mesclun with radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, croutons, and sumac.
Perusing the “Main Attraction” section in search of an entrée was not the least bit painful. Chef Philippe has many dishes adequate for AVH… The lobster ravioli with shiitakes, sugar snap peas, roasted red peppers, and ginger-coconut sauce is the entrée of choice. Plate licking practices were only a moment from reality. The pasta is delicate to the bite, with lobster not quite maintaining a level of… abundance.
If someone slapped me silly and snapped that I could not order the lobster, the second entrée of choice would be the grilled salmon steak with broccoli pesto, spaghetti squash, and virgin vinaigrette. For the scallop lover, there are seared scallops with apple and potato salad, including St. Arnold beer-pomegranate sauce.
Dessert began with a warm cup of espresso arriving with a side of Grand Marnier. Philippe’s dessert menu is appropriately listed as “Decadence.” Whether it be Italian sweet chocolate with hazelnuts & ricotta foam or creamy chocolate cake with hazelnut sorbet, pastry chef Jose Hernandez hits perfection head on. Other options are the upside down apple tart with crème fraiche ice cream & caramel sauce… jasmine crème brulée with banana ice cream & sesame butter cookie… butterscotch parfait with chocolate shortbread & dulce de leche… Grand Marnier crepe soufflé. Wow.
French dining is at times stiffly unbearable, but Philippe’s concept works. Once hostess soldier clearance is accomplished, the rest of the experience does not produce snob induced therapy. The manager easily surpasses adequate qualification status… He works from start to finish making sure the experience at Philippe is an enjoyable one. Emily Post’s book on etiquette & semi social graces may be a proper investment for one sommelier presently calling Philippe home.
With an ideal Post Oak location, as well as having Robert Del Grande as a neighbor, Philippe has much promise. Shining bright, good things are yet to come.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch