Chef Philippe Schmit Takes Aim at Galleria Crowd

Philippe Schmit wants to feed you.

On Saturday night from the kitchen and rooftop of the condos at 510 Lovett, he settled for a group of food bloggers and freelance writers. Schmit, formerly of Bistro Moderne at the Hotel Derek, is planning a late fall opening of his own place, philippe restaurant and lounge, at 1800 Post Oak.

"November, God willing! But God may need a little help on this one," he said of the restaurant's projected opening date. Schmit is a charming guy, with plenty of dark hair falling just so into his eyes and a very thick French accent.

His charm went a long way toward endearing himself as the pace of the evening reflected an overwhelmed kitchen, and some of the dishes were far less successful than others. Seared foie gras with peaches sounded delicious but tasted almost rancid. Rather fishy-tasting salmon sat on top of soggy pumpernickel.

Stand out items served included a porcini tart with Balsamic truffle vinegar, pork/foie gras terrine with pickled vegetables, mini-croque monsieurs, champagne sangria and a crème brulee served in the sweetest little serving dishes with equally sweet tiny spoons. The brulee was delicious, though it lacked that hard, burnt-sugar crust for which one longs.

We're not sure exactly who planned a rooftop party in Houston in August, but once the sun managed to go down, the lofts did provide a lovely view and a slight breeze, even if it was accompanied by 85% humidity.

What intrigues us most of all is if Chef Philippe will be able to draw the Galleria crowd when he opens. With an advertised chef's table, large private room and semi-private lounge available for reservation, he seems to want to give Robert Del Grande a run for his money, which could be a lot of fun to watch.

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