^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

$13 at Café Rabelais in Rice Village

Where

: Café Rabelais, 2442 Times Boulevard, 713-520-8841

What $13 gets you: If you’re me, a profoundly dissatisfying and discomfiting meal.

I steer clear of upscale restaurants because too often I end up feeling out-of-place, undeserving and just plain sad. And when it comes to ordering, it seems I always choke.

Recently, following an interview with a Rice University professor, I rode Sunset west into Rice Village and wandered into Café Rabelais. I should have followed my instincts and returned to the street after noticing how nearly every table included a middle-aged white woman with a pageboy haircut and white sweater tied at the neck. Was this a café or a country club?

But the diners appeared far stuffier than the place itself, which employs giant chalkboards as menus. Lunch items include great-sounding salads such as warm goat cheese, country ham and hazelnuts over a spring mix ($7.95) and sandwiches including a fresh tuna steak with egg, tomato spring mix and oil on crusty bread ($8.95).

Pretty much everything on the menu sounded wonderful. And, looking around, everyone was enjoying their meals, which came with golden fries served European-style in paper cups.

So why in hell did I order, of all things, a plate of smelts?

Recommended? If you’re not me, yes.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Café Rabelais is best known for its extensive wine list, and has received numerous awards from Wine Spectator magazine. It’s no slouch in the food department, either. The 2008 edition of the popular restaurant guide Zagat gave it a 26 out of 30 for food, a very enviable rating.

True to form, I got what must be the worst dish on the menu. In my defense, I do usually enjoy smelts and very rarely see them on menus. The best I’ve had were in Greek restaurants. These were the worst.

The six itty-bitty pan-fried filets, each about the size of a canned sardine, were too salty to eat. Big springs of parsley were jammed into a cup of remoulade that tasted like jarred tartar sauce. I managed to get down two fishies then gave up. My lunch instead consisted of the complimentary bread and butter and a bottomless glass of iced tea ($1.50).

Bonus point: More than 500 wines to choose from. – Todd Spivak

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.