Steal of a Deal at Café Moustache

The recent transformation of SoVino into Café Moustache (507 Westheimer, 713-524-1000) over the summer left the now-French restaurant with a bit of an identity crisis and the lack of a regular lunch crowd.

With downtown crammed with easy, cheap lunch options and the Galleria equally as fulfilled in the food department, two huge sections of business lunchers already have an abundance of options. This leaves the Café Moustache location near Montrose on Westheimer and its $15 prix fixe lunch concept -- a great deal -- with not nearly enough takers.

For the $15 prix-fixe menu that I was invited to sample, Café Moustache offers a choice of soup, house salad or escargot for the first course of three. Skip the others and order the escargot. It was incredibly rich, tender and buttery -- which is enough to make you forget the fact that you're eating what once was a slimy, slithering snail. Dipping our house-made bread into every tiny cubby in the serving plate, we soaked up the lemon butter pooling in the little compartments until there was nothing left. It was my favorite dish of the meal.

Second, I ordered the Truite Meuniere, the classically delicate filet of trout lightly battered in egg and fried, served with perfectly tender and slightly crunchy haricot verts in a garlic-studded butter, as well as some mediocre roasted potatoes. It was a nice change from the regular burger or sandwich offerings that tend to dominate my lunch plans.

Last, I chose the Peach Melba crepe from the dessert menu. It wasn't an amazing, hallelujah moment, but it was a good, satisfying dessert that ended the meal with a touch of sweetness and left me happily, but not overly full.

The meal still pleasant and relaxed, aided by a few $5 glasses of wine offered on their lunch menu. Judging from my experience, it's an affordable midday treat well worth a drive.