Saint-Emilion Still 'Wows' Under New Chef

We stopped by French restaurant Saint-Emilion to see how things are tasting with a new chef in the kitchen.

Saint-Emilion has been in the able hands of several chefs through the years but has maintained a consistency in its menu and standard of service that continue to earn it accolades and loyalty that stand the test of time. Chef Summer Jones passed the torch to Kobi Perdue in mid-2015 and, sadly, I hadn’t had a chance to dine at Saint-Emilion since the kitchen changed hands. With two years to settle into his new role, it was time to see what Chef Perdue’s doing with Fort Worth’s original French darling.

The dining room is just as cozy and elegant as I remember, complete with white linens and freshly polished stemware — although the tables have recently been refreshed with new cream leather chairs. I don’t recognize several new faces in the dining room or the kitchen, but the service is as polished and coordinated as before.

The menu at Saint-Emilion is now fixed price. Guests can choose one- or two-course meals ($58.50+) or the standard three-course option ($69.50+). Diners who would prefer just a glass of wine and appetizer are asked to dine on the patio, which is not a bad option considering Saint-Emilion’s wine list and the number of solid and memorable first courses on the menu.

During our visit, we decided to play it safe and started with escargots and foie gras. Les Escargots à la Bourguignonne are six snails served in a classic porcelain gratin dish with an herby garlic butter and topped with individual puff pastry rounds. Just as I remember, the texture is dense and clam-like with an earthly flavor, but dipping the pastry into the pool of warm butter definitely takes the dish from good to exceptional.

If you are a fan of seared duck liver over mousse or pâté, the Foie Gras de Canard Poëlé  won’t disappoint. Saint-Emilion’s foie gras presentation changes seasonally, but when we dined, the slices of liver were sautéed with grapes and whole almonds in a Sauternes gastrique sauce flavored with smoked almond butter. The creamy nuttiness of the sauce played well with the sweetness of the grapes, and we loved the foie gras’ crispy sear but melt-in-your-mouth center.

For the main course, the wood-roasted duck and Dover sole are some of my favorites, but for this meal we opted for a classic steak and a fish selection from the blackboard. The Steak Au Poivre uses a beautifully aged cut of New York strip crusted in peppercorns and served with a rich and silky Cognac and peppercorn sauce. It’s a generous portion of meat served with skinny french fries flavored with garlic and rosemary. It’s a wonderful choice for those who want a more flavorful beef cut than the tenderloin, though we would have preferred our steak cooked with a little more salt.

From the blackboard, we tried Filet of Loup de Mer, a delicate filet of Mediterranean seabass served with a lemon butter caper sauce over a bed of buttered farro with baby asparagus. The fish was moist and tender with a crispy skin and not overwhelmed by the capers in the sauce. I wasn’t sure about the farro, but the meaty texture of the grain proved to be an excellent complement to the fish. I was impressed with the preparation of the side vegetables served. Instead of being an afterthought, the braised carrots, squash and red onion ended up being one of the highlights of the meal.

I was also pleased to find that one of my all-time favorite desserts, Tuile Aux Mûres, was just as delicious as I remember. A pistachio and coconut lace cookie is formed into a cup, placed over a round of delicate butter cake and filled with a scoop of creamy fromage blanc. Then, mixed berries sautéed in butter and raspberry liquor are poured over the top. The cookie remains light and crispy, while the warm juice from the berries soaks into the cake underneath.

The Tuile Aux Mûres forever remains one of the most surprising and unique “must-try” desserts in Fort Worth. If you go to Saint-Emilion just for dessert and a glass of Sauternes, I wouldn’t begrudge you, but hopefully you’ll linger over the table with friends enjoying a meal you won’t soon forget.

Location: 3617 West Seventh St.
For Info: 817.737.2781
Hours: Tues. - Sat. 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
What We Liked:
Classic dishes at Saint-Emilion remain some of our favorites, but the chef keeps the menu fresh and modern with weekly blackboard specials using seasonal ingredients.
What We Didn’t: The fixed price menu (with service charge included) may appeal to some, but we prefer the flexibility of the a la carte menu and found tipping more confusing. We were also sad to see the lobster soufflés gone from the Thursday night rotation.
Our Recommendations: If you are a first-time guest, the three-course bistro menu is a great introduction to the restaurant at a reasonable price point (with or without wine). It’s available Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you’ve dined at Saint-Emilion before, the upstairs private dining area is definitely worth trying at least once, but requires parties of 8-14 guests.