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Why go to Paris? Étoile's magret de canard raises classic French dish to new heights in Houston

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Shelby, Best of Everything, Etoile, March 2013, roasted duck breast
Étoile's Magret de Canard à l'Orange wins honors among Étoile regulars as the best duck in the city.
 
Photo by Debora Smail/RealityPhotography
Shelby, Best of Everything, Etoile, March 2013, restaurant interior
The restaurant in Uptown Park has been packing in diners since opening in November. Photo by Debora Smail/RealityPhotography
Shelby, Best of Everything, Etoile, March 2013, roasted duck breast
Shelby, Best of Everything, Etoile, March 2013, restaurant interior

We've experienced and swooned over the magret de canard in Paris' famed La Tour d'Argent and assumed that, alas, such a seductive culinary encounter could not be savored outside the City of Light. After all, that restaurant's duck is acclaimed as the best in the world.

That was before Étoile chef-owner Philippe Veripand brought his classic French cuisine to Houston's Uptown Park, where he has been serving a chic SRO crowd practically since the opening in mid-November.

 We need not have been so timid in our expectations. The dish was remarkable. 

When our waiter recommended the Magret de Canard à l'Orange (roasted duck breast and glazed daikon with an orange spicy gastrique), we were only slightly optimistic that we would not be served the typically chewy, uninteresting magret that is so common in American restaurants. We need not have been so timid in our expectations. The dish was remarkable.

All four sophisticated diners at the table found themselves fairly swooning over the perfection that Veripand had rendered from this dish. The magret was beyond tender with a beautiful coat of crisp, flavorful fat, the luscious outer layer intelligently counteracted by the addition of the citrus gastrique.

Rich and flavorful, Veripand's creation is deliciously true to its Gallic roots. We could not have asked for a more perfect dish — the best of magret that we've experienced on this side of the Atlantic.

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