Lobsters and Clams at Bistro Le Cep

A typical clambake is built on a bed of seaweed and stones, then heated on a pit or grill over firewood. The ingredients will include a variety of seafood, such as clams, mussels and lobster; much like in a crawfish boil, potatoes, corn and sausage are often added.

In New England -- where most clambakes take place -- they often use seawater to steam the whole mess of goodies. Never been to New England or had a clambake? No worries. The chefs at Bistro Le Cep have brought the New England specialty to us.

Located in a nondescript strip center (yes, I know) at the corner of Westheimer and Wilcrest, Bistro Le Cep shows real appeal once you walk inside. The decor is warm and charming, and the wall racks filled with wine bottles around the rooms always make me feel like I'm in heaven's waiting room.

Joe Mannke emigrated from Europe to the US and cooked his way through kitchens in NYC, Boston and even Disney World in Orlando before landing in Houston. He opened Le Cep in 2001 and has been serving up French country cooking, tuned by seasonal ingredients, ever since.

Just as they did last summer, right now they're offering up a traditional New England Lobster Clambake, sans the beach. For $39.50, I got a delicious four-course meal that started off with a dreamy, creamy yet light clam chowder. Bite-size pieces of potatoes danced around in the bowl with fresh, supple clams. I couldn't help but use the fresh French bread to sop up the last of the chowder.

Next, we had a salad, which was fine, but why waste time on that when the main event was yet to come? Enter a platter of beautiful sea bounty: A nice-size lobster sat atop steamed shrimp, clams, sausage and veggies. I wish someone had developed smell-a-vision so you could delight in the aromas that were emanating from that plate. You could smell the saltiness of the ocean, but there was an underlying sweetness coming through as well.

My lobster was delectable. Every morsel of it was just perfect, making the drawn butter unnecessary, but hey, who doesn't love butter? My hubby felt his tail was slightly overdone, but I really had no complaints. We both had fun digging into the Cherrystone clams and peeling the steamed shrimp.

Although the seafood was clearly the star of the night, the sausage was superb. The casing was swollen and tight, giving way to a juicy and flavorful pork filling. The meal was rounded off with apple pie a la mode, which was meh. There was nothing wrong with it, but nothing exciting about it.

This special will be available every Friday as long as they can get their mitts on New England lobsters. If seafood isn't your thing, Bistro Le Cep also has a fabulous Sunday dinner (four courses) for less than $30.

Where are you getting your seafood deals? Drop me a line and let me know where to go next.

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