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Houston Restaurant Weeks: Au Petit Paris Bistro

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What they're up to for Restaurant Weeks: Au Petit Paris Bistro is serving two Houston Restaurant Weeks menus, a three-course lunch for $20 ($3 donated to the Houston Food Bank) and a three-course dinner for $35 ($5 donated to the Houston Food Bank). You can pair a glass of red merlot wine, house sauvignon wine or rosé wine for $5 with the HRW lunch or dinner menus.

Service/Atmosphere: Although Au Petit Paris fills up quickly, even on a Tuesday night it doesn't feel overcrowded in the quaint restaurant. You can tell that the kitchen is slammed with orders of escargot, onion soup, chicken breast fricassee and floating islands, but the wait staff is extremely attentive and makes sure you have an enjoyable evening. It almost feels as if you've escaped to a little part of Paris among the hustle and bustle of the Kirby neighborhood. Although it took a bit longer for the dishes to come out of the kitchen, it made for a relaxing evening, and the dishes were all cooked well.

Items that won't be on the regular menu: Several of the items on the HRW dinner menu are available on the regular one, but there are a few that stand out as all-star dishes. For the first course, the lobster bisque comes with a single ravioli stuffed with chicken, rosemary and provolone; it's a nice twist on the creamy soup. The second course includes new additions of the cod Napoleon served with fingerling potato mousseline, sautéed broccoli and curry cucumber white wine sauce, as well as the Angus short ribs served with a creamy Parmesan Reggiano tomato polenta, glazed carrots, onions and bacon. You also won't find the lemon choux paste with honey Chantilly and caramel sauce, the rich dark chocolate cake or French Creole bread pudding on the regular menu; that's three of the four desserts.

Don't Miss This Dish: The main courses and desserts are definitely the stars of this menu. If you're looking for a fish dish, choose the Scottish salmon. It's delicate, perfectly cooked and pairs well with the caramelized red onions cooked in red wine and the risotto made with soft forest mushrooms, bits of asparagus and peas. The creamy Chanterelle sauce is perfect for dipping bites of salmon. However, if you want a heartier dish, go with the Angus short ribs that are braised for five hours. Trust me, you don't need a knife to cut into these delicate short ribs. They're are topped with glazed carrots and bacon and served alongside creamy Parmesan Reggiano tomato polenta. It's so simple but perfectly executed. For dessert, go with the chocolate cake. It's rich and chocolaty and will make you say, "Oh my gosh," the second you take a bite. The creamy ganache and chocolate fudge layered into it make this moist cake the perfect ending to your HRW meal.

Don't Bother: Everything on this menu is truly delicious, but the escargot wasn't as spectacular as I thought it would be. I wish that each piece of the escargot had been a little saltier and had more garlic seasoning. The puff pastries were good but just didn't live up to my expectations. If you're unsure what to get for an appetizer, go with the onion soup. It's a classic and won't let you down.

Final Verdict: For an enjoyable, relaxing evening, Au Petit Paris Bistro is definitely a great choice during Restaurant Weeks. Props to this restaurant for not letting the rush of HRW meals get the best of them; the chefs still doled out delicious and delectable dishes despite the large number of orders off the HRW menu. Make reservations, though, because this place is small and will fill up quickly.

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