"Can you smell what Spring is cooking (in The Rocks voice)?" We definitely can because it's all around us, and we think it's a good thing. We enjoy Spring, and as food connoisseurs we are in LOVE with all that it has to offer by way of herbs, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Like the sweetness of the yellow sweet corn and sweet peas perfuming the air as we stroll through the Farmer's Markets, or the bold and delicious colors of Rhubarbs and Strawberries as they demand to be noticed amongst their peers. Spring definitely turns out some of the best fruits and vegetables of any of the seasons. It also appears that this is a time that chefs like to play around and create lovely dishes with all the wonderful options that the Spring harvest brings.
We recently had the opportunity to try several dishes from L'Olivier Restaurant & Bar's new Spring 2013 menu. Although the sample menu was less "French" than we would have expected, Chef Olivier Ciesielski hit the nail on the head when it came to developing his Spring creations. Our selections for the evening…
1st Course: Butternut Squash Soup - w/apple and sage
2nd Course: Avocado Pancake - topped w/ crab meat & mango; Beet & Goat Cheese Salad - Roasted Beets, Chevre, Maple Syrup; 240 Salad - Bleu Cheese, Medley of Mixed Greens, Apples & Almonds
3rd Course: Housemade Pea Ravioli - Crispy Pancetta, Thyme Sauce
4th Course: Pan Seared Halibut - Seaweed Salad, Ginger, Garlic-Soy Reduction
5th Course: Strawberry Soup - w/Pistachio Ice Cream
In true Urban Swank style we must highlight our menu faves! The sweet, mellow, yet nutty flavor and ideal texture of Butternut Squash is a no brainer when choosing a base for your soup. At L'Olivier, it was blended with apple and sage and was a true sipping pleasure. Served in a small tea cup and topped with a frothy concoction, it had a wonderful aroma and set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The second course was presented as a trio; two salads and a bite-sized pancake which must have been sent down from the Gods! We all know that avocado makes everything better, just like bacon, so we had our minds made up that this portion of the trio would serve as our finale for the course; we always want to save the best for last! The salads were great, but they had nothing on the jumbo lump crab wonder; the mango provided the extra sweetness to bring the pancake up a notch. With the next course, we were starting to see a trend of well balanced dishes - from the choice of ingredients used, to the combination of flavors that were orchestrated almost methodically.
With that said, the Housemade Pea Ravoli fell right in place. Served in a mini sealed jar, this was a time when the cool packaging did not attempt to conceal the quality of the contents. The ravioli was cooked perfectly, and the accompanying sauce, that was infused with the sweet minty flavor of thyme, was pretty close to amazing. We used the Pancetta that was hanging on the rim of the jar (by a piece of thyme) as a sort of topping and we each crumbled the round cured pork belly and sprinkled it on top of the dish like salt. This dish had a rustic appeal and nothing says comfort like pasta and peas.
L'Olivier is one of the newer French restaurants in the Houston area and with a prime location in the Montrose area, it brings the vibe of a small brasserie, which is really needed in Houston. The Spring menu is available now so you should definitely check it out!
L'Olivier Restaurant & Bar
240 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77006
Urban Swank did receive a complimentary tasting, but the opinions expressed are our own.