The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Bistros
This pair of cozy spots -- Canopy in Montrose and its older sister, Shade, in the Heights -- is owned by Claire Smith, who's made a solid career out of delivering simple, straightforward yet creative cuisine with a panoply of influences. Try the four-mushroom pot pie or the lamb stew at Canopy, or enjoy a sumptuous breakfast with freshly-baked pastries. At Shade, get the pan-seared duck or steamed littleneck claims -- and don't pass up the clever cocktail list at either place.
6. Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro
Photo by Troy Fields
Plonk bills itself as a Garden Oaks/Oak Forest wine bar, but it's so much more than that. The impeccably compiled wine list (owner Scott Miller was once the wine director for Pappas Bros. Steakhouse) is complemented by an eccentric beer list that's heavy on local and craft brews. And both lists are bolstered by a full dinner menu that features both modern American cuisine and bistro favorites like an aged hanger steak and wine-steamed mussels.
There is something intensely European about this jewel of a spot, run by ex-pat Frenchwoman Genevieve Guy. Perhaps it's the small kitchen with a roaring, wood-fired oven or its rustic seating with cozy tables or the sensation of being pleasantly removed from the hectic, traffic-filled urban streets for an evening. Or perhaps it's all of these, with an added dose of plush foies de canard or delicate poussin rôti to really drive the point home. The all-French wine list doesn't hurt, either.
4. Nosh Bistro
Photo by Troy Fields
New Upper Kirby restaurant Nosh is a bistro with a modern, South Asian spin -- a place where outstanding burgers mingle with curried fish, where charcuterie and cheese boards keep company with lamb flatbreads, where you can get a roasted Cornish game hen or a tandoori chicken. The wine list is studiously compiled and the upscale atmosphere is tempered with whimsicality, so it never feels stuffy or fancy. The fire pit on the cozy patio is incredibly inviting on cool evenings.
1972 Fairview St., Houston, TX