Perfectly, gracefully, elegantly flawless, the food currently being created by Executive Chef Jose Hernandez at Downtown’s hippest new luxury property, Hotel Alessandra, proves to be a total sensory experience – a visual delight and breathtakingly scrumptious. It is the food of flavor, of elegance prepared by a staff that understands the expectations of a luxury hotel clientele.
Lovely matte-glazed plates showcase dishes constructed with meticulous care, cooked with evident expertise and served with grace by knowledgeable staff, eager to please yet non-intrusive.
Swathed in soothing shades of soft green, the gloriously sun-lit restaurant Lucienne offers breakfast, lunch or dinner (as is the tradition in grand hotels). And all are delicious, especially the Crepe Madame, its crepe tender, the ham and creamy, dreamy bechamel filling seductively tasty, all topped with runny, oozing-yolk fried eggs.
On Saturday and Sunday, breakfast becomes brunch. The menu expands to wonders such as a buttery foie gras with tomato jam and sea salt with in-house baked brioche toast and Tahitian Vanilla Bean waffle with a berry soup, bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup and housemade pecan butter. And if you still need convincing, think about the Crème Brûleé Custard French Toast with white chocolate Chantilly cream, warm vanilla syrup and fresh raspberries.
Chef Hernandez, who has worked in kitchens since he was 14, knows both sweet and savory cookery. He honed his skills for 20 years, seeking out the best and finest establishments for employment. After first meeting and working with Philippe Schmit at the acclaimed Orsay in NYC, Hernandez joined Schmit again in Houston at Bistro Moderne and again at Philippe Restaurant & Lounge. He was corporate pastry chef for Scott Tycer at Aires, Gravitas and Kraftsmen Bakery. And at Triniti, Hernandez transitioned from sweets to savory and became chef de cuisine. Most recently, he led the culinary team at sister property Hotel Sorella, where the contemporary Italian menu at Radio Milano received high praise.
From the flaky, buttery croissants set out in a busy board room to the dining room dessert of delightfully wonky pistachio vachern with its raspberry cream, crisp meringues and whimsical white chocolate topping – all baked goods and sweets are made in-house, from scratch.
At dinner, the current crepe preparation with its fluffy cauliflower filling and deliriously seductive and wondrous Gruyere cheese sauce is a must. At night, the foie gras gets dressed for evening with sautéed apples and calvados.
In fact, the whole menu feels marvelously and rightfully autumnal. A stunning and rich saffron fennel sauce, its earthy orange color highlighting sautéed scallops – a visual feast. Tender squab is accompanied by assorted mushrooms and a roast of colorful baby carrots – a plate of elegance with a crispy fried carrot frond garnish. An elegant square fillet of halibut accented with just a touch of citrusy sauce, a mosaic of thin baby zucchini slices all sitting pretty on a panisse. With its crispy exterior and smooth, nutty interior, the chick pea delight from southern France is so perfect it almost stole the show from the fish!
Every item on the menu calls my name. There is the perfect bordelaise sauce on the succulent Angus ribeye that has all the right accompaniments – roasted bone marrow and potatoes cooked with foie gras fat. Risotto with butternut squash and a soft egg, quail with lentil and duck sausage, lobster with fennel bread pudding. I want to return again and again. Five- and seven-course tasting menus are available should you be so tempted.
And then there is the ultimate dessert, the thinnest, the crispiest, the most buttery of crusts with a delicate fan of apple slices all baked to a deep autumnal brown, topped by a scoop of rich french vanilla ice cream and a sweet calvados sauce. So, so, so good it hurts.
From start to finish – flawless.