French Boulangerie / Charcuterie / Boucherie in Houston
- swhitt Oct 8, 2010 10:58 AM
I've been a lurker for a while and finally decided to create an account as I'm moving to Houston next week. Is there any chance I'll be able to get French-style baguettes, charcuterie and pâtés in Houston? I know they're available in NYC but I'd love to be able to enjoy them in Houston.
Hi Steve, I'm not a charcuterie guy, but evidently this place Vinoteca Poscol @ 1609 Westheimer (in Montrose) has some buzz.................
WOW, moving to Houston from France. Welcome to Texas!! It may well not be what you are used to but it's a great place to live and dine. I hope you'll keep us posted on your experiences here.
While New Orleans is not so much authentic French food, there is a bit of good French food to be had both here and in NO. As far as cajun and creole, there isn't a whole lot of that in Houston that compares to NO. Thank goodness that NO is only a 5 hour drive or a 50 minute plane flight. We go a couple of times a year so I can have my cajun/creole fix (I am from southern Louisiana).
Added: I just remembered where I had some great crusty french rolls, not baguettes but close to that wonderful crustiness - Andres's on River Oaks Blvd and Westheimer. While the food isn't such great french food, it's good. Those rolls are excellent and I have to shake about a pounds of crumbs from the crust out of my lap when I get up. I don't know if they make baguettes but it would be worth checking into. Their pasties are excellent and very reasonably priced unlike so many other pastry shops around town.
Welcome swhitt! I also used to live in France -- there are things I miss (baguettes, good cheese that doesn't cost $$$, pain au chocolat, etc etc), but then I also have to remember that there are things I can get in Houston that I couldn't get in France. No great baguettes, but great tortillas. No moderately priced Epoisses, but a huge variety of cheap and delicious chiles.
Pros and cons, wherever you live. :-)
Baguettes: Sadly, I haven't found a good one in Houston yet. You can get "meh" ones at the high-end markets (Whole Foods, Central Market) - sometimes a "meh" baguette is better than no baguette. I like some other breads at CM better than their baguettes (e.g., ciabatta), so give that a try. There are bakers at some of the farmers' markets around town -- haven't tried their baguettes personally, but would be worth a shot. I've also wanted to check if Kraftsmen has baguettes to see if they're any good.
I believe Stella Sola, in addition to Poscol already mentioned, does their own charcuterie. I have a vague memory of Grove doing their own as well...but I'm not a charcuterie person, so I'm not sure.
Welcome to H-town!
1001 Studewood, Houston, TX 77008
Not sure if you are more interested in restaurants or grocery-type places -- I tend to have this type of thing more when I am out at restaurants, so won't be much help on the latter.
I had some really nice pâté (two kinds) recently at Bistro des Amis. Nothing out of the ordinary, but solid standards.
Another great place for pâté, rilletes, and the like is Feast. The menu changes often, so you will have to check the website to see what is available on the daily menu, but I believe they have pork rilletes on the permanent part of the menu. Highly recommended.
For charcuterie, I second the recs for Vinoteca Poscol and Stella Sola. Both are pretty fabulous and among my favorite restaurants in Houston. You pick and choose individual offerings at Poscol, whereas at Stella Sola you receive a plate with the chef's selection. There are actually quite a number of places doing their own charcuterie (someone mentioned the Grove, and there is also Catalan and others that I am forgetting), but these two are my faves.
Bistro des Amis
2347 University Blvd, Houston, TX 77005
1001 Studewood, Houston, TX 77008
Chez Nous in Humble, which is right near IAH, so sort of not convenient to downtown but the food is worth it. Their charcuterie plate has delicious pate, duck rillette, some other cured meats, etc. And their french bread rolls and butter are delicious. That plate was the only thing I ever painfully craved when I was pregnant and would be one of the top reasons I could never be 100% vegetarian. That whole restaurant is a gem but the location keeps it off the radar. Monday nights the wine list is half off.
217 S Avenue G, Humble, TX 77338
Most places Vietnamese or not in Houston that have great sandwiches on french style rolls use a roll from a little bakery in River Oaks neighborhood called Royal Bakery. They make primarily one type of bread and make a ton of it every day packaged in brown kraft bags that get shipped out to delis and restaurants all over town. I think it's only available to restaurants, I'm not sure, but if you have a great poboy/banh mi/sub around town, it's likely Royal Bakery's bread.
Have you checked out French Riviera Bakery on Chimney Rock, just north of Richmond, for baguettes? I've never lived in France so can't compare but theirs are not as crusty, dense and chewy as others I've had. I know they sell them but I mainly go for the sandwiches, my favorites being the mortadella with pistachio and the pate de campagne. I've never tried the baguettes at WF or CM; the idea of a great baguette at any sort of supermarket just doesn't compute for me.
As far as banh mi shops, the baguettes also seem to vary from thicker, heftier, tougher crust, chewier texture to much less so. Two shops I like on the far west side in New China Town are Tan Ba Le Baguettes and Fast Food, Beechnut at Boone outside the Loop, and Paris Sandwich Cafe, on Bellaire 2 blocks east of Gessner, but try the banh mi shops closest to you before driving all the way across town.
I know Tan Ba Le sells their baguettes (22', 6 oz, $1) separately but I'm not sure about Paris.
As far as New Orleans Po'boy rolls, the best I've had are at Calliope, on Jefferson, East of 59, downtown.
Paris Sandwich Cafe
8282 Bellaire Blvd Ste 137, Houston, TX 77036
Tan Ba Le Baguette
11169 Beechnut St Ste L, Houston, TX 77072