Sweet and Savory
How this French-inspired Houston restaurant rises past expectations
With today's "get in, get out" mentality, especially when it comes to restaurants, Houston diners are discovering how refreshing it can be to focus on their food, company, and surroundings at rise n°2.
The salon de souffle and wine bar allows its guests to turn back the clock, with a sophisticated atmosphere that encourages truly savoring life's simplest pleasures. And that unique ambience is one that you won't find anywhere else in Houston, mainly because it's been carefully curated by rise's founders to be one-of-a-kind.
It all starts with authentic materials: drinking glasses made from recycled wine bottles, custom-designed French torchons, silver-plated flatware sourced from Europe. Antique school desks have been converted into private dining tables, and the pottery has been hand-fashioned especially for rise from Homestead Heritage in Waco.
Even the refined rooms themselves have a handmade feel, with the wall surrounding the Birch Forest being made from river stone and one decorative bathroom wall that's actually large blocks of beeswax, which has been melted down and carefully applied with a putty knife. Located on the second floor of an Uptown building in the BLVD Place property (with ample parking in the connected garage, plus a valet option), the restaurant conveys a treehouse feel thanks to its large windows that overlook the neighborhood's greenery and high-rises.
The Houston location of rise is actually the second; the first opened in Dallas at Inwood Village in 2008, and a third joined la famille recently in Fort Worth's Shops at Clearfork. Founder Hedda Gioia Dowd and executive chef Cherif Brahmi, both of French ancestry, devised a restaurant where their guests could revel in a dining experience that riveted all the senses — but without the stuffiness that diners typically associate with French cuisine.
You don't have to be an escargot connoisseur to enjoy rise's menu, and you don't have to save its sweet and savory souffles only for special occasions. Thanks to cutting-edge ovens from France, the fluffy baked dish made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites even arrives at the table quicker than most expect. Souffles can be eaten as a savory main dish (think jambon and Gruyere, creamed spinach, sun-dried tomato and pesto chèvre, smoked salmon, truffle-infused wild mushroom) or as a sweet dessert (chocolate, Grand Marnier, raspberry, bread-pudding, and apricot are popular flavors).
In addition to souffles, rise n°2 also serves fromage (the finest selection of local and French artisanal cheeses) and classic French entrees, from salad Nicoise to steak pomme de terre to brie and cornichon sandwiches).
A thoughtful wine and beer list offers something for every taste and budget, with flights providing a way to taste several different whites, reds, or sparkling wines. Keep an eye out for an assortment of antique tabletop collections — which are for sale, as is most everything at rise.
If you want an antique table for your own home, or a bottle of the lavender or lemon verbena hand soap that's made especially for the restaurant, just ask. You can even purchase an heirloom-quality silverware set, presented in a tiny, velvet-lined case known as a ménagère, and take a piece of the rise n°2 experience with you.