So you can imagine our surprise when we discovered that one of the world's greatest chefs was opening a restaurant on Lake Conroe. Located at the La Torretta resort, Chez Roux is the creation of Chef Albert Roux, the founder of Le Gavroche, England's first Michelin-starred restaurant, located in London. Le Gavroche went on to be the first restaurant in the UK to hold the coveted three Michelin stars.
From our Texas perspective, it is tough to understand the influence of Albert Roux. He and his brother Michel are regarded as the godfathers of modern restaurant cuisine in the UK. They put England on the culinary map by raising standards across the nation, opened several ground-breaking Michelin-starred restaurants, had a TV series, wrote several books, and mentored many of England's top chefs, including Gordon Ramsey.
The best analogy I can provide would be to wander into a lakeside watering hole, and discover that Eric Clapton was the guitarist in the house band. To say you'd be pleasantly surprised is an understatement.
This culinary superstar picked Lake Conroe as the location for his first and only restaurant in the United States, and we were thrilled to be invited out to meet Chef Roux and sample his cuisine. The kitchen at Chez Roux is normally staffed by several of Chef Roux's alumni from his establishments across the pond, including Chef Matthew Gray, who earned his own Michelin star at the famed Inverlochy Castle Hotel in Scotland. But today Chef Gray was on a much-deserved vacation, and the master was at the helm.
We were escorted to our table by Garrett Donovan, the restaurant director, who gave us a bit of background about Chez Roux and who would serve as our host for the evening. We were seated at a lovely table with a spectacular view across Lake Conroe of the sunset, and before us was an array of wine glasses and fresh flutes of champagne - House of Albert Roux Grand Cru, Blanc de Blanc.
The champagne was slightly dry and very light, and a wonderful welcome to this French outpost. We found ourselves leaving the hot Texas summer behind, and stepping into Albert Roux's world.
When Chef Roux strolled up to our table, we were immediately charmed by his warm countenance and his quick wit. The chef may be 74, but he has the fire in his eyes of a much younger man. You could tell he was exactly where he loved being, at the helm of his restaurant, overseeing the kitchen and making sure that every dish met his exacting standards.
The chef suggested a six-course tasting with wine pairings. Not being foolish, we left ourselves in the capable hands of Chef Roux.