Upon closing the doors of Café Moderne, local celebrity chef Philippe Schmit turned to Rottet Studio to design his new restaurant in the chic new development of BLVD Place by the Houston Galleria. He wanted the restaurant to be comfortable enough for someone to make it their daily dinner venue as often happens in New York. The design of Philippe is a captivating dichotomy--casual yet chic, warm and inviting yet contemporary, French yet Country Western like Philippe, “the French cowboy”.
Philippe recognizes that French restaurants rarely succeed without adapting to the way of life in their respective cities which is why his food and the design of the restaurant pay homage to both France and the Texas cowboy image. The design of Philippe reminds you of a time when the structural material was the beauty of the architecture, not the façade that covered it. Raw steel, glass and wood are used in an honest way, devoid of ornamentation, but beautiful in self expression. Tucked behind this industrial age modernist framework, inside the private dining rooms is an intricate stenciled pattern of historic French Louise the 14th architecture.
The entry lounge is warm and inviting with a two-story mirror rising above the bar reminiscent of a large mirror over the bar in a small Texas-town saloon. A soft glowing light emanates from either side of the mirror through the chef’s dining room which is perched above perfectly symmetrical with the room below. Cushy banquettes of rich brown recycled leather are tucked along the side of the lounge and the soft, calming ambience over each table is provided by industrial age light bulbs hanging over the banquettes.
An industrial age inspired stair and bridge lead to the main dining room, a comfortably proportioned area overlooking the lounge below. The guest is greeted by a tiny bar sitting adjacent to the wine room. Over the back bar, framed by a steel and glass facade is a full view into the kitchen—bright white and stainless steel are the backdrop for lots of visual and kinetic activity. A 20 foot wide hand-made light fixture is the center of the ceiling over the main dining room. Warm colored light shines through natural linen that gathers drapes and flows sensuously from side to side. A large framed wall mirror conceals the private dining room from the main hall and acts as Philippe’s daily chalk board where he jots down notes or special dishes he wants guests to recognize.