Culture / Restaurants

A French Pioneer

The First Restaurant at Houston’s Hottest New Shopping Destination Changes Everything

BY Laurann Claridge // 05.05.16
photography Max Burkhalter

This past winter, as tony boutiques such as Cartier, Brunello Cucinelli, John Lobb, Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana and Hermès opened at River Oaks District, we were still waiting for the bevy of restaurants slated to debut in Oliver McMillan’s sleek new development. All restaurants are out-of-town concepts vying for a lucrative market share in one of the fastest growing cities in America.

At last, our wait is over. The first to open is the French bistro-inspired Toulouse, a Dallas import from restaurateur Alberto Lombardi of Lombardi Family Concepts. Duplicating the success of the concept up north (as well as much of its menu), the space has the requisite French bistro accouterments: marble-topped tables, tile flooring and foxed mirrors, plus ample outdoor patio dining for those who wish to see and be seen behind their Tom Ford sunnies.

One of Toulouse’s many salad offerings — Niçoise.

Chef consultant Philippe Schmit, who left his eponymous Post Oak eatery in 2013, is behind the range, working with corporate chef Renato Di Pirro to create modern French dishes such as steak tartare ($16), a trio of mussel preparations ($16 each/$24 as an entrée) and decadent croque madame ($17), as well as old-school classics salmon coulibiac ($25), trout almondine ($24) and steak au poivre napped with a creamy cognac sauce ($29).

On the lighter side are raw and cooked fruits de mer, as well as artful entrée salads. Toulouse is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch (with breakfast coming soon).

This bustling bistro will soon have company — and a little friendly family competition — as the Lombardi clan readies for the late May opening of Taverna, its Italian trattoria located mere steps away in the same center.

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