Restaurants / Openings

New French Bistro in Rice Village Brings Approachable Caviar and a Killer Cheeseburger — Eau Tour Is Here

A Parisian Experience In Houston Is Benjy Levit's Latest

BY // 04.13.23
photography Jenn Duncan

Benjy Levit has done it again. After we mourned the pandemic loss of his restaurants The Classic and his namesake Benjy’s in the Rice Village, the stylish restaurateur brings us Eau Tour, a chic French-inspired boîte just around the corner from his Rice Village restaurants Local Foods and Lees Den.

The name translates loosely to “water journey” and it’s Levit’s aim, along with talented chef Kent Domas (The Classic, Alice Blue, Bernadine’s) to create a community-style bistro that feels like a lively, intimate dinner party with great music, cocktail glasses clinking and dishes passed around the table.

You enter the 2,000-square-foot second-floor Eau Tour through a discreet side entrance and head upstairs past vintage black-and-white French photos through a stairwell painted with a cheeky riot of colorful camo patterns. The dining room seats 60, plus 11 at the bar and several more under the shaded canopy of live oaks on the terrace. The restaurant has a decidedly ’70s groove, care of Garnish Design.

Levit collaborated with Garnish to preserve the original terrazzo floors and D’Hanis brick walls, a holdover from the 1960s when the space served as a bank. Splashed with pops of color from chartreuse to dusty rose and gray blue hues, a row of colorful striped banquettes centers the space, with vintage globe lighting, custom stained glass panels above a wall of windows, and plush, olive-colored seating pulled up to wood and quartzite topped tables.

The menu at Eau Tour is an absolute delight, dotted with approachably priced plates that inspire sharing (although I would love devour some of them without any help). I’m schooled in classic French cuisine and appreciate Domas’ homage to the rigors of French culinary technique. His respect for time-honored preparations is often enlivened here with a modern twist that still manages to feel true to its classic form.

Start with a specialty cocktail (all $14), a non-boozy one ($8), or select a wine from the comprehensive list culled from France’s most lauded wine-producing regions, as well as varietals grown on American soil with a French sensibility. The list, curated by Ryan Cooper (formerly a sommelier with Goodnight Hospitality and Uchi), seeks to capture the value found in Parisian neighborhood bistros, with prices marked below industry standards.

Outdoor Dining with Bering's

  • Bering's Gift's April 2024
  • Bering's Gift's April 2024
  • Bering's Gift's April 2024
  • Bering's Gift's April 2024
  • Bering's Gift's April 2024
  • Bering's Gift's April 2024
  • Bering's Gift's April 2024
  • Bering's Gift's April 2024
Caviar at Eau Tour (Photo by Jenn Duncan)
Eau Tour offers a selection of caviars priced competitively and served with apropros garnishes. (Photo by Jenn Duncan)

Ditto that for the caviar section of the menu, labeled “Caviar and Roe for the People.” With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Levit aims to price caviar like Eau Tour’s wine program (in this case, half the price you might find elsewhere).

“Caviar says fun, and we love the umami quality of it,” Levitt says. “We wanted to price it in such a way that people could experience it a little more frequently.”

Priced from $17 for Paramount seaweed caviar to $140 for Calvisius Ars Italica Oscietra Royal, with numerous options in between, each is served with traditional accouterments: sieved egg, chopped chives, crème fraiche, and for fun, lattice-cut gaufrette chips made with Kennebec potatoes.

Fruits de mer include a trio of oysters: Murder Point (Gulf Coast), Summer Love (East Coast) and Fancy (East Coast), available by the half and full dozen and served with a squeeze bottle of homemade hot sauce, cocktail sauce and mignonette to drizzle atop ($18 to $42). But don’t miss the cured trout belly served with shaved onion, cubes of pickled beets and caper leaves, all beneath a cloak of savory sabayon ($14).

The Eau Tour Food

Bread doesn’t get much better than Eau Tour’s warm, house-made variety. The seeded sourdough is served with a whipped ricotta, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with Maldon salt and fennel pollen ($8). Order the seafood bouillabaisse, and you’ll get spears of grilled bread along with a traditional dollop of rouille, the garlic and saffron-scented sauce thickened with bread ($14).

I love Eau Tour’s take on leeks vinaigrette, where tender white coins of leek are blanched, marinated and served room temp atop a smear of aioli and topped with shaved pecorino, toasted hazelnuts and breadcrumbs before being crowned with fresh boquerones, or anchovy ($13).

Double Cheeseburger at Eau Tour (Photo by Jenn Duncan)
The double cheeseburger at Eau Tour has been getting lots of attention for its 60/40 combination of short rib and duck grind; apropos to its Gallic origins, it’s topped with melting gruyère, duck-fat-fried onions, and special sauce. (Photo by Jenn Duncan)

I always gravitate toward gnocchi on a menu, and it’s rare even in French restaurants outside the continent to see Parisian-style gnocchi. Unlike the traditional Italian version, French gnocchi is made with a base of pâte à choux, then delicately poached in boiling water to finish cooking. The resulting light pillows of choux are accented with caramelized onions, olives, seasoned with anchovy, and mellowed with crème fraiche ($18). Completely crave worthy.

Other entrees at Eau Tour include a deceivingly simple omelet made with a high ratio of yolks to whites (think 90 percent) to create a fluffy but soft envelope filled with lump crabmeat and served with bearnaise sauce ($22). Chef Domas has a wood-burning Josper oven to play with, and out of it comes his bar steak, a bistro classic made here with the bavette (flank) cut, initially cooked sous vide before it’s charred in the Josper ($38).

The double cheeseburger has been getting lots of attention for its 60/40 combination of short rib and duck grind. apropos to its Gallic origins, it’s topped with melting gruyère, duck-fat-fried onions and special sauce ($18).

Eau Tour can be found at 5117 Kelvin Drive in Rice Village. It is open for dinner Tuesdays through Sundays from 4 to 10 pm.

Hop into Bering's this Easter for Egg-citing Finds!
Shop Berings

Featured Properties