the gardener blooms in the mfah

New French restaurant with Michelin cred blooms in Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Refined new French restaurant with Michelin cred blooms in MFAH

Le Jardinier bavette au jus steak
Bavette au jus. Photo by Ricardo Mejia
Le Jardinier Alain Verzeroli
Chef Alain Verzeroli. Photo by Nicole Franzen
Le Jardinier Passionfruit Kumquat tart
Passionfruit and kumquat tart. Photo by Ricardo Mejia
MFAH mural
Installation view of Trenton Doyle Hancock’s Color Flash for Chat and Chew, Paris Texas in Seventy-Two, 2019–2020.  Photo by Thomas Dubrock, courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Le Jardinier beet and kale salad
Beet and kale salad. Photo by Ricardo Mejia
Le Jardinier bavette au jus steak
Le Jardinier Alain Verzeroli
Le Jardinier Passionfruit Kumquat tart
MFAH mural
Le Jardinier beet and kale salad

A fine dining restaurant with a Michelin star pedigree arrives in Houston next month. Le Jardinier will open May 18 inside the Kinder Building at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the restaurant announced.

French for "the gardener," Le Jardinier comes to Houston via Miami and New York, where it holds one Michelin star. The restaurant defines itself as "a refined, vegetable-forward concept rooted in French culinary technique and inspired by the seasonality of ingredients." 

While it's not a vegetarian restaurant (note the steak picture above), vegetables take center stage in dishes such as burrata with tomatoes, stone fruit, bee pollen, and basil seeds; Ora King salmon with courgettes and lemongrass emulsion; and grilled bavette au jus with broccolini and eggplant mousse. 

Chef Alain Verzeroli possesses an impressive resume. During his training in Paris, he worked at three star restaurants Taillevent, Guy Savoy, and l'Arpège, where he served as executive sous chef. Prior to opening Le Jardinier, he held three Michelin stars at Tokyo’s Château Restaurant Joël Robuchon. Still, Le Jardinier's menu has been crafted with Houstonians in mind.

"As we’ve been preparing to open in Houston, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about what Houstonians crave and developing a menu that incorporates the unique terroir of the city,” the chef said in a statement.

Like Cafe Leonelli, the casual Italian restaurant that opened at the museum earlier this month, Le Jardinier is part of The Bastion Collection, the New York-based hospitality company that also operates La Table near the Galleria. Bastion's executive pastry chef  Salvatore Martone has created a gluten-free dessert menu that includes options such as salty caramel sabayon, passion fruit and lime vacherin, and vegan ice creams. 

Expect a setting that's just as picturesque as the plates. The 70-seat dining room features a wall-size tapestry by Trenton Doyle-Hancock of an abstracted forest, titled Color Flash for Chat and Chew, Paris Texas in Seventy-Two. A 30 seat patio looks onto the museum's sculpture garden. 

"Chef Verzeroli’s artistic approach to simple, fresh ingredients combined with the natural elegance of the interiors forms an unrivaled dining experience in the Museum District,” stated Gary Tinterow, Director, the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “We are delighted to welcome visitors and Houstonians to a serene environment that effortlessly exemplifies our vision for the Sarofim Campus.”