The first week of June was executive chef Aaron Guest's last at Sabine [1915 Westheimer, (713)529-7190], according to owner Bill Johnson. Guest had joined Johnson from the get-go, back when Sabine was housed in a tiny space on Sunset with only a couple of burners and barely a pair of parking spaces.
Sabine has since grown, along with Guest's reputation. The restaurant moved up to roomier Montrose digs after the Grange gave up its ghost, while Guest garnered "up-and-coming" chef recognition at My Table magazine's 1998 Houston Culinary Awards, and more recently, from Esquire.
A culinary alumnus of the Art Institute of Houston, Guest intends to expand his stylish Southern-dominated palette by studying and cooking his way across France and Italy, reports Johnson with noticeable regret. Meanwhile, Guest's longtime friend and former sous chef Clay Wilson has already stepped up to the burners and is busy rolling out Sabine's summer menu.
"Well, we've always wanted to keep evolving," says Johnson bravely. "This town is too competitive for us ever to stand still."
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The glossy dishes that grace the covers of culinary magazines will be coming soon to a restaurant near you. Chef Jon Hebert of Bourbon St. Bistreaux [5555 Morningside, (713)522-9133] is designing a program of monthly dinners featuring those spectacular creations too intimidating to try at home. Or, Hebert points out, guests "can sample the dish as sort of a sneak preview before attempting it on their own."
He kicked off the magazine series on June 15 with the sea bass and champagne sauce featured front and center on Food and Travel. Upcoming entrees will be announced as they are chosen, depending on the whims of the food editors at Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Food and Wine. Customer suggestions are welcome, too. "I've seen people drooling over those magazine covers at the newsstand," says Hebert. "I thought I should volunteer."
The cover dinner series will be staged on the third Tuesday of each month and priced according to ingredients. Hebert's regular Cajun-influenced menu will also be available those nights, we're told. Management warns that advance reservations are a good idea, as quantities for the special plates will be limited.
-- Margaret L. Briggs