It’s Bright, Airy and Fun: Brasserie 19 has the French Connection
Tall handsome Shawn Virene, the Managing Partner of Brasserie 19 welcomes his guests with warmth and humbleness. I would be hard pressed to guess that he is the boss as he runs the show hands on, pretty much managing all the chores. With a passion for food and armed with the motto “communication is the most important key to success in the restaurant business,” Virene seems to know the tricks of the trade.
Located in a busy strip mall of River Oaks, Brasserie 19 got its ‘number’ from the zip code of the neighborhood. A lot of credit goes to its décor and ambiance that has very successfully created the atmosphere which is chic, elegant and at the same time laid back.
Although I visited restaurant on a Monday evening, there were no empty seats, as guests enjoyed the French inspired restaurant that boasts a happy hour drink menu at all times.
Starting his career as a bus boy 26 years ago, and then moving up through the ranks as a waiter, cook and general manager, Shawn has learned firsthand the elements that create a positive dining experience. And while he can still bus tables and serve patrons with the best of the best, Virene is widely known for his respected and intuitive sense for wine pairings. Having traveled extensively, Shawn tries to bring to Brasserie 19 food with a mix and match of different cultures.
The quaint decor with all white antique furniture is the perfect setting for a romantic evening or a brunch afternoon with girlfriends over champagne, dressed in pretty frocks and munching on affordable crepes in an upscale surrounding.
I tried the French Martini and it was delicious, along with Diver Scallops and Escargot. The French bread is fresh, hot and melts in your mouth while you can also enjoy mineral water at no extra cost. I was torn deciding between the wild mushroom, spinach, brie crepe or the Halibut, finally deciding on the latter. My friend picked the owner’s favorite Steak Frites and for dessert we went with the Grand Mariner Crème brûlée. All the dishes were truly amazing.
Party girl Shiva Rafferty who is a regular at the restaurant with her friends, cannot stop bragging about the grilled octopus and her other favorites include Plateaux de Fruits de Mer seafood platter that serves 2 to 3 persons that includes shellfish, oysters, crustaceans – some raw, some cooked. “It is a fun place to hang out with girlfriends and just perfect to have a great birthday party,” adds Shiva.
About the menu: With Charles Clark as the Executive Chef (Clark Cooper Concepts), Mark Schmidt and Amanda Macgraw the Chef de Cuisines, the restaurant has a French brasserie fare receiving its popularity for the modern American influences in the menu and use of the freshest seasonal ingredients. Also with a fully stocked bar with an exclusive selection of wines by bottle and half bottle, as well as three and six‐ounce pours with minimal markups. France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, North America and South America are all represented in the fully stocked bar.
If you are looking for a modern, classy yet unpretentious dining experience, I recommend the Brasserie 19 for a true French experience right here in Houston.
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