Houston Chronicle, June 6th 2016
by Alison Cook
“This menu is boring,” I announced glumly to my two dinner companions at La Table, the successor restaurant to Philippe on Post Oak. I had scanned the terse dish listings quickly – “chicken paillard;” “hanger steak;” “burrata mozzarella and tomato” – with the sinking sense that I had eaten it all before.
Yet once the food began arriving at our linen-clad table in the formal upstairs dining room, I settled into a calm, surprised pleasure at how exactingly everything was done. Though the menu would not have been out of place at your better grade of country club, the execution had a quiet elegance and assurance to it that seldom wavered during my various visits.
A glossy lobster bisque, that old-school French warhorse, rang with the deep, oceanic vibrato of many simmered lobster shells. “Colossal lump crab salad” turned out to be a stunning crown-shaped affair of sweet crab, lush avocado and bracing wafers of radish, all outlined by a gracefully balanced sweet/tart citrus vinaigrette. Lovely stuff, made Houston-friendly with a glimmer of cilantro and a spark of jalapeño.
Even the bread basket earned my admiration, for the chewy mini baguettes and seeded wheat rolls that are made in house and served with good butter that is not straight from the refrigerator.
Scores of such well-considered details make a meal here feel like you’re dining in some well-ordered cocoon, where domes are whisked off dishes in concert, vast acreage stretches out between tables and the wine advice is as sound as the wine service. At its best, the French-in-spirit food itself seems to exist inside some Platonic bubble: The kitchen can turn a simple potato purée into a buttery, thrilling event; make simple flatbread exciting; and inject dark magic into chocolate soufflé that ranks among the best desserts in the city.
La Table’s executive chef, Manuel Pucha, was Philippe Schmit’s first lieutenant when the restaurant opened in 2011 as Philippe. Pucha stayed on during a wanly received reincarnation as the all-American Table on Post Oak and now seems to have hit his stride under a classic French remake by Invest Hospitality, an investment and management firm that has provided services to such high-flying venues as Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York and Miami. READ MORE