Sometimes submitting to student work is a bad idea, like when you want a perm. Other times it's a no-brainer — I mean how bad can a massage really be?
When it comes to letting students practice their skills on you in exchange for big discounts, a restaurant inside a culinary school is one way to get upscale effort for drive-thru prices.
The newest student restaurant in town is Kris Bistro & Wine Lounge at Culinary Institute LeNôtre. Opened to the public in September, Kris Bistro focuses on French cuisine, serving lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday. Led by executive chef Kris Jakob, the kitchen works closely with local farms and producers — meals open with a complimentary juice tasting from Utility Research Garden — and bakes artisan French bread in-house.
For lunch one can order off the a la carte menu, which features French classics like escargot ($8.50), moules marinières ($12), and a hangar steak that weighs in at 16 ounces ($24), or try daily specials like beef ragout or oven-roasted chicken, which are $12 and come with a soup or salad to start. And like any French restaurant worth the name, Kris Bistro serves wine and beer, with a snug but decent wine list that tops out at $35.
Looking for something more new world? The Art Institute of Houston runs Courses Restaurant and Deli Monday through Thursday for lunch only. Soups and salads start at $3, basics like an Angus burger or turkey club will run you $6.50, and entrees like grilled salmon and flat iron steak cost less than $9. The restaurant only serves between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. but if you miss the window there are sandwiches, soups and salads available from a "grab-and-go" section throughout the day.
If you prefer to let students serve your food rather than cook it, there's always Eric's Restaurant at the University of Houston. This is restaurant of the Hilton University of Houston and the prices and selection are typical of a hotel restaurant — $10 burger and all — with breakfast, lunch and dinner served by students at the Conrad Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Have you tried a meal at any of the culinary school restaurants? What did you think?