Cafe Le Jadeite (****)

Posted on May 9th, 2004 in Restaurant Reviews by mynagirl

Cafe Le Jadeite

1952 West Gray

Houston Texas 77019

713 528 4288

After work the other Friday night, Engineerboy and I each craved Chinese food. There are, of course, several Chinese and Vietnamese food destinations within striking distance of our office and home. However, I have many non-food requirements for a chill-out-after-work dinner destination, especially after the end of a grueling work week. I especially like cushy seating (you’ll notice that as a theme in many of my restaurant reviews), and I like a little “see and be seen” atmosphere somewhat on a Friday, especially if I like my outfit :-). So some of the corner Chinese food joints, even if they have good food, just don’t quite cut it for the “indulge yourself” attitude at the end of the work week.

But we didn’t know where to go that fit both our culinary jones and my ambiance requirements. We drove aimlessly through River Oaks and I spotted Cafe Le Jadeite. “Wait! Isn’t that Chinese?” I exclaimed. “Um, I don’t think so,” said Engineerboy. “I think it’s French.” “No, no. Jadeite. That’s Chinese. Plus, look at those horses,” I said, referring to the Asian sculptures outside the glass doors. We decided to give it a try. The management had even helped us out by posting their menu outside the restaurant in glass (which is actually a quite French thing to do) and it was decidedly Chinese in flavor, but not exclusively so.

As soon as we were inside, I knew we’d made the right choice, at least from the non-food aspect of what I was looking for. The interior was unbelievable, truly River Oaks fabulous: custom etched glass panels, more giant horse sculptures, other unreal decor I don’t have a language to properly describe. Absolutely beautiful. The staff was formal but not stuffy, and led us to the perfect booth with wonderfully cushy seats, crisp linens, and hand polished flatware. We ordered a pair of drinks from their custom drink menu; they were shortly delivered by two folks who shook them up and poured them from individual shakers into chilled glasses right there at the table. I knew I was at the right restaurant, alright.

Well, if you’re wondering about the food quality after the promise made by the décor and service, it actually surpassed them. It was amazing. Our meal consisted of:

Appetizer:

Duck crèpes with hoisin sauce and fresh scallion (shared). We snarfed these down. They were so fresh tasting and light. The duck was so tender, Engineerboy said he was wishing he’d ordered the duck as a main course.

Soup course:

Asparagus lobster soup. Engineerboy says he loved it.

Pumpkin seafood soup. Unbelievably light, with just a little cream. So tasty!!

Main course:

Shrimp with garlic and mushrooms. Very tasty and delicate.

Lightly fried shrimp on apple ginger sauce (house specialty). Unreal, so good I could not believe it. The sauce was sweet but not overpowering at all, and it was the perfect complement to the shrimp.

We skipped dessert (we were stuffed), and the whole bill, drinks included, only set us back $80 before tip. I’ve had meals that weren’t 1/4 that good for that much money (Ragazza comes to mind). The service was so amazing (one Diet Coke was delivered so quickly I thought maybe they were using ESP): the word that I keep thinking about is effortless. They knew how often to come by, when we needed everything, and they were friendly but not overbearing. The whole experience was fabulous and exactly what we needed. Cafe Le Jadeite is definitely the recipe for what ails at the end of a long work week!

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