Best French Restaurant (2005)

Bistro Moderne

Forty-two-year-old Philippe Schmit was born in Roanne, France, and apprenticed at several two-star restaurants in Paris before moving to New York in 1990 and taking a job as sous-chef at one of the best fish restaurants in the world, Le Bernardin. Schmit moved to Houston last year to open Bistro Moderne. The restaurant takes a playful approach to the French classics. Appetizers are dressed up in dessert shapes like bombes, napoleons and tartes. A lamb shank comes with the meat removed from and balanced on a big bare bone. Schmit has a way with French fish dishes. His bouillabaise is the best you will taste on this side of the Atlantic. Even the humble moules frites (mussels and french fries) on the lunch menu at Bistro Moderne take the street food of Belgium to a whole new level. The mussels are an ivory-colored, extra-fat variety, lovingly farm-raised in Washington State. You can get them in a white-wine broth or a chorizo cream sauce. Go for the chorizo. The sauce is cooked with the spicy Spanish sausage, which is then strained out. When you're done eating the mussels, you can soak up the chorizo-and-mussel-flavored cream with crusty French bread.


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