Chez Roux is a short walk (or faster golf cart ride) along Lake Conroe in Montgomery, Texas to La Torretta Del Lago’s entry into eating excellence. A world renowned chef is not a necessary ingredient to craft a great meal, but if you want to create a world-class restaurant, then having Master Chef Albert Roux’s name on the front door ensures the highest status. Our dinner confirmed its place in the upper strata of restaurants.
Cool and calming upon entry, the intimate bar flows into the comfy dining room, with all tables facing the lake and outdoor eating deck. Separating the two areas is the wine room with bottles visibly stacked to the ceiling on metal racks. When seen in reflection on the dining room windows, the image appears to mirror La Torretta in the background.
Taken immediately to our table by Sommelier/Manager Garrett Donavan, we eagerly perused our menus after learning of the day’s specials. There is a choice of ala carte or prix fixe menu. Most entrees are in the $30 range, with a Rib Eye Steak that serves 3 for $96. The prix fixe includes a ½ bottle of wine and at $65 per person is a real deal for this level of dining.
Garrett brought us complimentary glasses of champagne to accompany the nights amuse bouché, consisting of a zesty mushroom soup served in a demitasse cup with crisply toasted crouton on the side.
Following this tasting, we had the quail salad resting on a bed of greens with pine nuts, asparagus and lardons, dressed with the bird’s seasoned juices. Our other starter was Chef Roux’s long-perfected signature dish, the cheese soufflé of Texas gold cheddar with corn kernel cream. We were told that the Queen of England would come to Chef Roux’s restaurant in London especially for this elegant dish. It was light and fluffy, precisely the way a soufflé should be.
We shared fish and fowl entrees consisting of a tranche of Cod with mustard roasted fennel, apple and cucumber compote; and Muscovy duck with caramelized parsnip, gnocchi, cabbage and poached apple. Both were stellar dishes, with the duck rating a special quack for its near perfect taste and tenderness.
Each course was accompanied by wine selected by Garrett for us. We had Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chablis and Muscatel with dessert. His wine choices worked perfectly with our meal choices and we suggest letting him select yours. Ably served by our waiter, Michael, all our dishes were expertly described and presented with attention to detail required of proper French service.
Despite being fully satisfied (i.e. “stuffed”), we had to try their desserts. After all, the dessert chef was waiting for us to complete our meal before going home. We chose the Strawberry Tasting which is a trio of strawberry treats, with the brulee and strawberry chips standing out. Also, the baked-for-us Apple Tartan ala mode with caramel sauce sure went down easy.
Chef Roux does not do the cooking. In his mid-seventies, semi-retired Chef Albert was recently in Montgomery checking on the progress of his first American venture. This kitchen is in the extremely competent hands of Executive Chef Matthew Gray, the only Michelin Guide-rated chef in Texas. Hailing from Scotland, he oversees an extremely talented team of accomplished professionals from around the world. Each specialist proved to us that culinary perfection is not luck, but a combination of skill, knowledge, experience and the love of food. They were justifiably proud of their cuisine and we were appreciative for an extremely accomplished meal.
We had the opportunity to meet Chef Gray in his spotless kitchen and watch the preparation of dishes from the “Chef’s Table,” a private dining area inside. This is also where the Chez Roux cooking school is hosted. The initial classes were fully subscribed and new courses are scheduled for spring 2010.
If not over-used, then the term “world class” is appropriate for this mid-Texas locale, and proves that you don’t have to travel to foreign countries to enjoy international culinary excellence. It’s all right here in Montgomery, Texas.
LA TORRETTA DEL LAGO RESORT & SPA
600 La Torretta Boulevard
Montgomery, TX 77356