Café Rabelais and Manon

Since we were seeing Opera in the Heights's production of the French opera Manon, we decided to pay homage by writing about another amazing French feat going on here in Houston. Café Rabelais in the Village is dear to many a European's displaced heart - it's the focal point of casual French dining in our inner city. While everything here is really top-notch, and we do mean everything, there were a few points of special interest on our recent trip.

It seems like there's been a mussels war going on between the now-defunct Café Montrose- Broken Spoke and Jeannine's Bistro, but the clear winner to us is Rabelais -- and they don't even have to chime in for themselves. Amazing cream sauce accented the perfectly cooked mussels and light and crispy frites, enough for a meal in itself. The bread came out piping-hot and chewy, with an extra-thick crust. A skirt flank steak was cooked precisely rare, with extra tomatoes and olive oil instead of dressing on the accompanying salad, as per our picky companion's requests. And our waitress never skipped a beat.

A casual crowd of do-somethings mingled over their meals as if dining on the front porch of a café on Salle de Seminaire. Cafe Rabelais is bliss, and worth every dime we occasionally shell out to spend a little time in the other Paris, Texas.