Chef Justin Basye created Les Sauvages, which means “the wild ones,” as an outlet for many different chefs in Houston to create. This list of chefs is top notch with a side of stellar. Most of the chefs included in the pop up dinners are either out of work or simply waiting for their restaurant to open. He played host all summer, with two farewell dinners marking the end in October.
Entering t’afia for the Foreign & Domestic dinner was comparable to that of walking in to the scariest of all scary high school parties. Pick a clique, for this building is flooded with non rookies. Looking to my friend for some type of acceptance was the only option. Just a measly miniscule moment of approvalness, only to realize his rookie status peaks higher than mine.
Moving right along…
Per Les Sauvages website, dinners have included…
Ryan Hildebrand ~ Triniti
Chris Shepherd ~ Underbelly
Ned Elliott & Nathan Lemley ~ Foreign & Domestic
Grant Gordon ~ Tony’s
Jackie Blanchard ~ August
Michael Kramer ~ Felix 55
Randy Rucker ~ Restaurant Conāt
Matt Marcus ~ Eatsie Boys
Plinio Sandalio ~ Congress
David Leftwich ~ all around badass
Jason Hill ~ htownfoodstrEATs
Adam Dorris ~ Stella Sola
Antoine Ware ~ Underbelly
Owner-chef Monica Pope, of t’afia, opened her kitchen for the Foreign & Domestic dinner featuring Ned Elliot & Nathan Lemley. Nine courses were prepared and presented with a full description from the chefs.
The first course is Gulf Shrimp Aigre Doux with quail egg, fish egg, radish, and arugula yoghurt. Quail eggs are massively frightening and I’m pretty sure the chef said the shrimp were cooked for almost… ten seconds. Yikes.
Our second course is a Scallop Tartare & Confit with cucumber purée & cucumber blossoms, salt cured egg, as well as bread & butter pickles, and ham. The ham was actually not present, unless it has already been repressed to the deepest part of my brain. While the name of this dinner happens to be shellfish, carcass has been invited.
Heart! Our third course of Shellfish Mouselline with corn, fennel, alliums, potato, and late summer pistou is a gorgeous creation with amazing flavors. This is a favorite of the night.
Printed menu description states course four is Roasted Coquillage with periwinkles, cherrystone clams on the half shell, cockles, broccoli, bacon, and borage, but the verbal description of this clam concoction included the four most painful words of all time… pork foam & pork powder.
The room began to spin as flashes of future therapy sessions became imminent. Did he just say pig foam? Bacon foam? Porky’s cousin’s sister’s foam? A debacle of pig powder & pig foam description crimped my hair within mid sentence.
When it seemed like things couldn’t possibly plummet further, all of the sudden, my friend said he did not want to eat my pig & foam powder covered clam. Gasp.
These words broke every plausible rule in the service industry manual of pop up dinner slash supper club etiquette. As our server appeared, it was if words were impossible to form a response as he said, “I don’t want it. You can take it.”
Really? Did this just happen? Sending an uneaten dish back to the chef from Foreign & Domestic is the ultimate travesty. Holy Toledo.
P.S. This friend in question ate his dish of purported pork delish. AVH is ultimately responsible for all consequences of uneaten food violations.
Ah, lobster. Mental anguish was slightly apparent upon noting course five’s Baked Wellfleet Oyster may have lobster in its midst, but also houses foie gras, chorizo, garlic, and bread crumbs. Decisions occurred, as the best way to surpass this obstacle is to secretly remove the foie gras. Gulp.
Feelings of pleasantness appeared while tasting the chef’s interpretation of the Dungeness Crab Parmentier with yukon gold, old bay, pickled peppers, potato foam, and toasted brioche.
All ears were clear as the chef explained the story behind the parmentier, which means “potato stew.” It began with a sorda potato salesman traveling through Normandy in the 1800’s. This human’s last name just so happens to be… Parmentier.
Upon a mini menu glance, course seven indeed possessed the super scary status of… Surf & Turf. The turf in this surf would be that of the wagyu, with the surf being smoked clams. Also adding joy are trumpet mushroom and charred onion petal.
No. Double No. Triple No. Quadruple No. Infinity… No Thank You. Instead of immediate hypnosis at a degree of intense, subbing something for this terrifically terrifying turf somehow felt like a grand idea. False.
Without a limping leg to stand on, all brain cells failed as a server walked by. I said, “Maybe if you happen to run into a chef back in the kitchen, um, glance and see which chef looks the most… unbusy.”
AVH: Um, hi, Justin. Just so you don’t have to, um, waste any turf on me, maybe it would be okay or sorda possible to, like, maybe have the dish with just surf on it? Um, sir, yes sir. Oh no, this is actually not a conundrumness attempt on my part.
Justin: No. That’s not possible (as his frown wrinkle starts to wrinkle).
AVH: Thinking to myself… OMG. Please let me windshield wiper his brain so he will forget this conversation ever happened.
Justin: Thinking to himself… OMG. Why is her rookieness in this room? Security? Can someone please call security? Security on speed dial? Anyone?
I’m just going to go ahead, without wasting a single substitution second, and give myself a Double Did You Really Try To Course Sub At Les Sauvages Wow.
As miraculous as reality could be, a dish was delivered without turf. Chef Bayse mustered enough nice to whip something up without. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
The last two courses for dessert were fantastic. Uni Custard with caramel, sherry, lime, and rye was a superb almost ending to our first Les Sauvages dinner, minus all above mentioned meat mental anguish. Curtsy.
Last to land is the Caramel Tapioca with pear sorbet, nutella toast, and sea salt.
Seats are available for purchase at lessauvages.wordpress.com. Justin Basye, Peter Jahnke, and all the guest chefs provided Houstonians with a summer of sensational dining.
Please & thanks with an ode to all at Les Sauvages!