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43 Skiddoo

Monica Pope's bargain bistro needs more seasoning

We had also agreed to split one of the six-inch personal pizzas, choosing the "Pissaladière" version ($6) made in true south-of-France style with anchovies and onions. The anchovies were great. The pizza crust, which looked promisingly light, flaky and tartlike around the rim, was completely sodden in the center.

So there we sat, depressed and still hungry. How could this be happening? we wondered aloud. The place was packed by this time, plenty of people dining upstairs and downstairs, inside and out, plenty more waiting patiently in line at the counter. Most of them had ordered salads, we noticed, which looked big and leafy and greenŠ and boring. We decided that rather than cut our losses and go get real fast food, we'd try ordering what we knew for a fact should be the house's strong suit: the pastries. And while we were at it, we'd try the interesting-sounding breakfast items, too; after all, a place that serves breakfast all day long can be a real urban gem.

Oh, dear, it was a mistake. The chocolate brioche, thickly slathered with unsweetened chocolate, hid a heart of rubbery, underdone dough. The blueberry cheesecake had a crust of crushed chocolate wafers that Mr. Grumpy swore was burned. The wild rice waffles ($4) would have been better had they been crisp, he accurately pointed out, especially as they were so fetchingly thin, but I liked the powdered sugar sprinkled over them. And the chocolate sandwich -- I mean, the chocolate hazelnut tartine ($3.75) -- reminded me exactly of something one of my stoned sorority sisters would have concocted on a marijuana-fueled pantry raid. It was -- and I will swear to this -- two pieces of dry toast spread with undersweet melted chocolate, liberally studded with plain, dry hazelnut halves. It wasn't good, it wasn't fun, and I wasn't in the right state of mind to eat it.

Pope's counter offer needs to go back to the table for discussion.
Amy Spangler
Pope's counter offer needs to go back to the table for discussion.

Location Info

Map

Brasserie Max and Julie

4315 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Montrose

Details

(713)874-0043.
4315 Montrose Boulevard,

I once read a theater reviewer's piece in which the only word of praise was reserved for the Diamond matches used to light cigarettes during the performance. At the risk of similarly damning with faint praise, I will say that the drinks at 43 Brasserie are both strange and wonderful. We loved the lemon verbena tisane ($2.25), a beautiful glowing green liquid with a lovely flavor. We even liked the pink grapefruit tonic ($3.50) spiked with lemon, ginger and -- believe it or not -- onion juice. We just didn't like the food.

As for words of explanation, I have none. How could a chef and a restaurateur so skilled have fallen so far short of the mark? How could a surefire, fail-safe concept like this one fail? Well, perhaps it's not fair to say "fail" in the case of a restaurant bustling with customers. Until a dramatic kitchen coup takes place or a better word occurs to me, let's just say "disappoint."

43 Brasserie, 4315 Montrose Boulevard, (713)874-0043.

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