As I bit into caramelized onion tart, something came over me. I wanted to say how good it tasted. But I found it hard to speak. I noticed a strange sensation in my eyes.
Was I tearing up? Surely not. Food doesn't make me emotional. But I almost felt like Proust and his madelaine.
The tart was amazing. A thin, flaky crust was topped with a layer of goat cheese and creme fraiche, and the sweetest onions I have tasted. Swirls of sauces on the plate included an unusual, translucent onion sauce and a lively basil puree. Together, they created magic. Art.
Gourmet Magazine has listed Le Reve in the top 10 American restaurants.
It is the finest dining experience I have had in Texas -- from the delicious tasting menu to precise service to brilliant wine pairings.
Of course, all of that comes at a cost. The dining room is small. Jackets are required for men. Dinner lasts about 3 hours. And the price of a tasting menu is $105, or $175 with wine pairings.
In New York, those prices would be a steal. But by Texas standards, it isn't cheap. The next day, I ate at Whataburger.
The full French tour
The tasting menu may not sound interesting on paper. Descriptions are brief: "Scallops" "Foie Gras" "Asparagus salad" "Line caught fish" "Beef."
It sounds standard. It sounds French.
And it is. But the beauty is in Chef Andrew Weissman's details. Foie Gras is served as a club sandwich with lettuce, bacon, jelly, and slivers of mango. It was an ultra-rich version of my favorite breakfast -- bacon and jelly on toast.
It was fun to watch other tables discover the foie gras club for the first time. A couple next to us look puzzled. Then, after a bite, they grinned. Within a few seconds they were laughing and gesturing, absorbed in the experience of the sandwich.
Almost as fun were scallops. Actually, it was only 1 scallop. Perched on a firm corn souffle that was exactly the same size and shape. Surrounding both was a sweet corn puree.
One of the most enjoyable parts of our meal was the Sommellier Fabien Jacob. He brought us tastes of 12 different wines, sometimes two different wines with a single course. And he discussed them all.
Jacob talks wine with animation. His mission as to inform guests about flavors and why pairings work.
And his pairings work quite well. Most wines were not pricey, and some perhaps not so interesting by themselves. But every one came alive with the dish they were picked to accompany.
If you like to talk wine, try going early or late so he can spend more time with you.
Even spaced over 3 hours, the 8 to 11 courses (depending how you count) were a little too much. We neared our limit with a plate of beef tenderloin and scalloped potatoes -- perhaps the least interesting dish.
But that was followed by a cheese plate, creme brulee, a lemon cake with chocolate mousse, and a plate of mignardises.
The desserts were delicious. Too delicious.
So as we left to wander down the Riverwalk, we were a little too full, and a little tipsy. But we knew we had eaten our favorite meal yet in Texas.