Whew last weekend was exhausting! Sam Smith concert, an 80s vs 90s party and then brunch with fellow bloggers! This was all before noon on Saturday. If my schedule was not crazy enough, a flat tire meant I had to roll up to brunch in Uptown Park sporting my donut tire. Despite the weekend craziness, it was great to gather with a group of fellow bloggers to enjoy a delicious brunch and excellent conversation. Renia, the creator of Gristle and Gossip suggested that several black food bloggers meet for brunch during the Houston Restaurant Weeks month. Renia picked the french restaurant, Etoile Cuisine et bar for our brunch. When I first heard “french restaurant” I was admittedly worried, but I am trying to expand my horizons for this blog. Ultimately I am glad I branched out!
Setup: Etoile is right in the thick of things in Uptown Park. I am sure I have passed this place numerous times on my trips to Cafe Express and McCormick’s, but I honestly never noticed it! Once inside, you are greeted with a well decorated quaint restaurant. If you have not noticed yet, set up and decor can win me over more than the food! I live for a pretty restaurant. Etoile fits that for sure. I wanted to take the chandeliers and chairs home with me.
Service: The service was good. They were pretty accommodating considering we had a larger group. When it came time for the bill, of course all of us were paying separately, but Etoile does not split checks. Many waiters have tried to explain the logic behind these rules to me and it always falls on deaf ears. Eventually, our waiter agreed to split the check for us even though it was against policy. Just be prepared to split your own check or split it evenly if you patronize Etoile with a large group.
Cocktails: I passed on the cocktails, but the rest of the group partook in the spirits and seemed to enjoy them. The drinks were aesthetically pleasing with beautiful garnishes like slices of watermelon.
Food: Again, I was being adventurous and went for the Soupe Glacee de Poireaux et Saumon Fume aka chilled potato and leek soup with smoked salmon flakes. The flavor and texture were great, but I really underestimated how much I prefer my food to be warm. If cooled soup is your thing, then you will likely love this soup. Me on the other hand? I wanted to box it and throw it in my microwave at home so that I could enjoy it.
For my main entree, I ordered the Coq au Vin. Chicken braised in red wine with potatoes and veggies. Please note the chicken was presented much better than this picture illustrates. I jumped right in before taking a good picture. It reminded me of the roast beef & potatoes my mother made as a child for me. I loved it! It was seasoned well with all of the juices and potatoes. The chicken skin was probably my favorite part.
On to dessert. I ordered the Pot au Chocolate, Glace a la Vanille. I played it safe even though that vanilla island thingy was calling my name! Thank goodness for the safe bet. The vanilla island did not go over well with the group, but my dessert was perfection! The chocolate custard was like chocolate pudding, then I loved the plain ole vanilla ice cream scoop they added to the top. I could have taken a round two of that dessert.
Finally, it is always great to get together with people with similar interests. Our group consisted of foodie bloggers from Gristle and Gossip, Fashion Crazed Foodie, Brunch and Conversation and Here and There.Life We are all bloggers but interestingly, we all have different day jobs and those experiences bring various perspectives to our blogs etc. Also joining us, was Phillip Paul Bryant, whose blog focuses on politics and issues within the African American community. Producing content for a political or community focused blog has some noticeable differences from a food blog so he added an interesting element to the conversation. He also provided us copies of his book, Death of A Community, which I cannot wait to dig into. I enjoyed exchanging ideas and suggestions about growing our blogs, being more active in our community and general professional growth. Most importantly, when you get foodies together, we are going to discuss our favorite restaurants. I am sure we all went home with lists of various things to check out. I hope that we continue to meet up every so often, because more than anything, this is a FUN group!
Ooooooh, I love French food! Coq au vin is one of my fav dishes to make on a cold winter’s night (not as if Houstonians know anything about those! ?). The food looks fabulous.