La Nouvelle Recession Cuisine at Au Petit Paris

Your dollar buys a little less at this new French restaurant on Colquitt

Maybe it was the reflected glow of celebrity, but somehow the bad paintings of Paris street scenes, the corny French music and the frumpy lace-curtain atmosphere seemed a little more charming that first night. The food certainly tasted ­better.

French seafood and chilled white wine is your best bet at Au Petit Paris — after all, you can get warm red wine and overcooked rib eye anywhere.

"Tightened belts will be no bad thing for the hospitality business. It will remind them what hospitality actually means," London restaurant critic A.A. Gill wrote in a recent review. "It will wash away the cynicism and the sham, the cooks who flog their names and consultancies rather than sausage and mash."

The Champs Elysées salad is spectacular, if a bit heavy.
Troy Shields
The Champs Elysées salad is spectacular, if a bit heavy.

Location Info


Au Petit Paris

2048 Colquitt
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby


Hours: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays

5:30 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Salade Champs Elysées: $12.50

Scallops: $27

Skate: $25

Rib Eye: $28

Oxtails: $30

2048 Colquitt, 713-524-7070.

I wish Gill were right. If an economic storm is approaching, it would be nice to think that there was a silver lining in it for the Houston restaurant-goer. But the current recession doesn't seem to be wringing out any excesses. In fact, restaurant prices are actually getting higher.

But don't blame the restaurants — blame $100-a-barrel oil. The higher price of transportation, fertilizer and power is pushing food costs higher. Meanwhile, the fall of the dollar against other currencies is making imports like wine, olive oil, cheese and spices much more expensive. The costs of building a restaurant to begin with are way up, too. Welcome to the era of higher prices and lower expectations.

It wasn't all that long ago that we were sitting in a leather booth in the gorgeous multimillion-dollar chocolate and blue interior of Houston's best French restaurant, Bistro Moderne, eating Philippe Schmidt's ethereal bouillabaisse and stunning avocado and crabmeat bombe. Alas, Bistro Moderne has closed its doors.

Au Petit Paris is Houston's French restaurant of the moment. The food is a huge step down from Bistro Moderne's, and the atmosphere is downright shabby by comparison. But the prices are about the same.

Deal with it.

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