I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
The Bistro Menil is a welcome addition to the 30 acre Houston art campus. That campus includes the Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, Byzantine Fresco Chapel, the Cy Twombly Pavilion, and the Dan Flavin Installation. The Menil Drawing Institute is the latest addition to this beautifully conceived campus. All of these buildings are open to the public, and admission is free.
This modern bistro is in a bungalow house adjacent to the Menil Collection. It is open to match the days when the museum is open to the public. From Wednesdays to Sundays, one can take advantage of lunch, afternoon tea, happy hours, and dinner. Brunch is also offered from Friday to Sunday from 10 AM to 3 PM. Check the Bistro Menil website for hours, special events, wine tastings, and the like. The address is 1513 W Alabama St., Houston, Texas 77006.
Interior Spaces and Decor
Large windows, along with modern lighting, make this restaurant a bright light-filled space. Fresh flowers adorn each table. The wood ceiling offsets the tabletops while the molded white chairs counterbalance the white walls.
The stark white of the walls allows three-dimensional art to pop! Some people have described this modeled art as resembling clouds. The way it emerges from the walls it reminds me more of the growth of mushrooms or even clustering of flowers. Suffice it to say; it is eye-catching!
On the left side of the entrance and bar is a smaller dining space with access to the patio area. It is quite lovely! It is also less noisy according to reports that I have read when this bistro is full of patrons.
Houston Restaurant Weeks
The first time my husband and I dined at Bistro Menil was during the 2017 Houston Restaurants Weeks. $3 of our $20 lunch price was donated to the Houston Food Bank. That is an excellent time to get out there and try new restaurants or even return to tried and true ones of which one is already familiar. Other ones we tried and liked this year were Lucille’s, Bistecca Italian Steakhouse, and Ciao Bello Restaurant.
The Houston Food Bank helps to feed 800,000 people according to their site and covers individuals and families living in Harris, Galveston, and Montgomery counties. Distribution is through some 600 food pantries and charities serving others. In the next years, we will certainly plan to visit more of these restaurants, of which 289 participated this year.
Food Selections on Our First Visit
My husband chose as his entrée the 6-ounce portion of the 12-hour beef short rib with sides of Yukon mashed potatoes and house salad. He raved about the tender, delicious, and mouth-watering short rib with port wine and shallot reduction sauce.
As my entrée, I chose the 8-ounce lemon thyme chicken served with pan juices and grilled lemon. My sides were the quinoa salad and cold zucchini with Parmesan and pancetta. It was all tasty! I have a vegetable spiralizer at home and have since attempted to replicate the zucchini salad with success. Thanks for the idea Chef, Greg Martin! This talented and widely traveled chef at one time worked with Julia Child.
My husband chose the Le Brownie A La Mode, and I chose the Lemon Tart from the dessert list. Both were good. We each topped off our meal that day with a steaming cup of espresso.
A Birthday Meal
Recently I took a good friend to Bistro Menil to celebrate her birthday. We started off sharing a cold roasted beet salad with walnuts & chives. We also had the crumbled goat cheese added to the top. It is a delicious dish, and my friend got to take some home to enjoy another day.
The birthday girl chooses to eat that very same zucchini salad that I had earlier tasted as a side dish. It was topped off with salmon as her entrée. The dressing on the mixture is a refreshing lemon vinaigrette that paired well with the salmon.
Since it was a Friday, the lunch, as well as brunch menus, were offered. My choice came from the brunch menu that day. Oh my! It was delicious!
The house-cured salmon is mounded over a mixed green salad. Deviled eggs topped off with caviar sit atop the thin latkes. Paired with a side salad, this is a dish that I would enjoy again and again.
We both had a cup of coffee, Americana, to finish our meal. My friend was presented with a birthday cupcake topped off with a lit candle. The service there is leisurely. Since they are open from 10 AM until closing, it is the perfect place to relax and chat, mainly if one happens to go there at an off-peak hour.
This bistro is an excellent addition to what is in the Montrose neighborhood. Nearby is the University of Saint Thomas.
A considerable lot with free parking also makes visiting Bistro Menil pleasant. The next time we decide to visit the Menil Collection, we will also plan to drop into this modern bistro for a drink or a meal. Just look for the large toy inspired red jack sculpture in front. You will know that you have arrived at the correct place!
Bistro cooking is good, traditional food, earnestly made and honestly displayed. It is earthy, provincial, or bourgeois; as befits that kind of food, it is served in ample portions.
— David Liederman
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Peggy Woods
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 08, 2020:
If you like art, be sure to visit all of the museums in the area adjacent to the Bistro Menil. You can make a day of it. The food in the bistro is delicious.
Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on November 08, 2020:
Sounds like a delicious place. I'm putting this on my list of places to visit, when I go to Houston. That Brownie A La Mode is delicious.
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 26, 2020:
The location of the Bistro Menil restaurant makes it ideal for those who love visiting the nearby museums. One can take a break and have a drink or a full meal and then go back and view more art. Or, it can be a sole destination for those who enjoy good food and libations. Thanks for your visit.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 26, 2020:
Peggy you share attractive hubs and well informed about Houston. The restaurant sounds a great idea and the food is greatly presented.
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 29, 2020:
We certainly do have a wide variety of restaurants in our area. Yes, it will be nice to be able to go out again when it is safe to do so. Thanks for your comment. Wishing you safety as well.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 29, 2020:
This restaurant is beautiful and the array of unusual food is wonderful You are so fortunate to have a restaurant like this one in Houston. When you consider all the other restaurants in Houston, you really have a lovel choice of food types. Your pictures are also very good.
I imagine you will be glad when the pandemic has ended and you cn go to all these lovely restaurants
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2020:
It is in a residential area, but it is also right next to the Menil Collection which is a very modern art museum. The entire art campus is surrounded by older homes.
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 28, 2020:
You’re lucky to have such a good variety of appealing restaurants in your area. The art in the yard looks like a big jack and makes me wonder what the neighbors think, as it seems to be in a residential type area.
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 27, 2020:
Our city and others offer those "Restaurant Weeks" each year that benefit local food banks. It is a great time to try out new places, or even return to favorite ones. It is popular and is a win-win for everyone.
Liz Westwood from UK on March 27, 2020:
I really like the donation to a food bank in the bill. That's a great idea. Your review is excellent and the photos are making me hungry.