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Houston Chronicles: The Food Tour

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What comes to mind when someone mentions Houston? Don't think about it. Respond emotionally. Probably you said something that included "Texas, oil, Gulf Coast hurricanes, cowboys, barbecue, and Tex-Mex". Maybe you also remembered that Houston is home to an important complex of medical centers and that NASA's Johnson Space Center is nearby.

Now add really good food to that list.

Houston has come of age. Serving up plenty of hamburgers, barbecue, enchiladas, and carnitas, Houston's food scene stays connected with its Western traditions. But the food landscape now includes a range of restaurants serving the cuisines of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. There are plenty of upscale restaurants and many affordable, neighborhood joints.

On a recent trip to Houston I took an eating tour of the town and I have some recommendations to pass along.

If you have money to splurge, be sure you stop at Voice (Hotel Icon, 220 Main, Houston, Texas 77002; 832/667-4470). Open…

Restaurant Chez Roux, La Torretta del Lago Resort & Spa, Lake Conroy, Texas

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When Albert Roux and his brother Michel arrived in London in the early-1960's their future was uncertain. They had a grand ambition to open a world-class restaurant specializing in high-quality, classic French cuisine in a country that famously preferred fish and chips. Le Gavroche was instantly recognized for the quality of its preparation and attention to detail and began a revolution in English cooking.

Chef Albert Roux recently turned his attention to America when he opened Chez Roux on the grounds of La TorrettadelLago Resort and Spa (http://latorrettadellagoresortandspa.com/), 600 La Torretta Blvd., Montgomery, Texas 77356 (936/448-4400), on the edge of Lake Conroe, an hour north of Houston. He chose the location of the renovated La Torrettabecause of his long friendship with the ownerRonnie Ben-Zur.

Chez Roux specializes in a cuisine Chef Roux developed with his son, Michel Jr., at Le Gavroche. Using sauces made with jus and reductions, the menu relies entirely on mark…