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When our waiter described the night’s special as salmon in beurre blanc, a typical and often unexceptional mainstay of French cuisine, I had my misgivings. It seemed like a waste of a special to add such a common dish to a menu that already contained escargots, foie gras, coq au vin and beef au poivre, to name only a few of Etoile Cuisine’s most traditional plates. But while Etoile specializes in the most common of French dishes, chef Philippe Verpiand’s meticulous preparations make the food uncommonly good. The coq au vin, often boiled into oblivion by less savvy chefs, is simmered to a succulent tenderness and served with enoki mushrooms, which lend the dish a lighter feel than the usual cast of cremini and portobellos. Even the profiteroles are freshly baked and delicate, a testament to Verpiand’s attention to detail.
Some plays strive to make audiences laugh, some try to invoke tears, others try to foster deep and insightful thought. The Rice Player’s production of Paganini boldly attempts to achieve all of the above throughout the play, but risks leaving viewers uncertain of how to feel. While the exact time period in which Paganini takes place is vague, the production, set in various European cities, is about a young, once world-renowned violinist whose soul belongs to the devil. Paganini has somewhat of a dreamlike quality throughout, making it difficult at times to distinguish what is real and what is not.
Since opening in 2012, Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly has arguably been the quintessential Houstonian restaurant. The menu, which boldly proclaims, “Houston is the new American Creole city of the South,” even won Shepherd a 2014 James Beard Foundation Award for its seamless integration of Houston’s many ethnic influences with traditional southern techniques. Shepherd is perhaps best known for his butchering and charcuterie which, at Underbelly, are embodied by an entire aging room and back-of-house butcher’s shop devoted to butchering, curing and aging the house meats. Shepherd’s expertise is nearly unquestioned in the realm of pork, beef and all things red meat. But in light of the growing number of gourmet diners and chefs moving away from the heavy use of red meat, I wanted to sample the menu without any la viande meats to see if Underbelly’s appeal could be as broad as its influences.
The Menil Collection will open its namesake restaurant, Bistro Menil, just north of Richmond Avenue by the end of this month. The bistro aims to be Houston’s first large-scale cask wine bar and will also serve craft beer, along with a range of familiar European and American dishes. Greg Martin, former chef of Café Annie and Taco Milagro, will lead the kitchen, while Sean Essex, who previously worked with Jackson and Company Catering and City Kitchen Catering, will head the craft beer and cask wine programs.
In retrospect, it’s easy to label what each year sounded like in music. 1969 was psychedelic rock music; 1977 was disco; 1985 was new wave (and Bruce Springsteen); 1991 was grunge; 1999 was teen pop stars; 2012 was dubstep. It’s much more difficult to describe what the “sound of today” is. For one thing, each year brings more genre crossover than the year before it, from Taylor Swift featuring dubstep production to Avicii featuring a folk ballad. Additionally, as streaming and MP3 downloading become more and more popular, to the point where far more students listen to Spotify than the radio, popular taste becomes divergent as individuals develop keen, eclectic tastes. So that’s why listening to the excellent second album, Wonder Where We Land, by British electronic musician SBTRKT should both amaze and confound listeners; it’s composed of everything popular now but still carves out its space as an album unlike any other released this year.
The sophomore album from a young, successful band is often the most important to their career arc and for good reason: The sophomore slump is a very real thing. Countless upstart indie bands, from MGMT to The Strokes to The xx, have received some degree of critical backlash for their second LPs, typically because they either changed nothing about their formula or they changed it too much. This is the stage set for alt-J, the Leeds-based folk and electronic crossover band that came out of nowhere in 2012 to win the Mercury Prize, the award given to best British LP of the year, for their debut album An Awesome Wave.
When I asked our waiter whether he preferred the lamb or swordfish, he told me, “That’s like asking me to pick a favorite kid.” Then, as only a father could, he described every last detail of the two dishes to help me make my choice. At Pax Americana, the new modern-American restaurant on Montrose, the passion and talent is evident. The entire wait staff has an exhaustive knowledge of the quickly-changing menu and Chef Adam Dorris (formerly of Revival Market) brings an adventurous approach uncommon for a restaurant touting itself as “American.”
The Thresher thinks the motions to address grade inflation passed by the Faculty Senate in March address an important topic in higher education but prove somewhat problematic (see story, pg. 1).
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about the idea of amateurism in collegiate athletics. Thanks to athletes like Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M University and Shabazz Napier from the University of Connecticut, questions are being raised as to how the NCAA treats student athletes.
For the incoming freshman class of 2018, the Rice University acceptance rate is at a record low of 14 percent, which is the lowest it has ever been, according to Vice President for Enrollment Chris Munoz.
The Thresher was excited to see the political activism exemplified by the protest of Charles Murray’s speech (see story, pg. 1) but thought the protest could have been more effectively executed.
Photos by Mia Polansky, Sean Chu, Sarah Nyquist, Sharrad Jones
Provost George McLendon has decided to leave his position after his five-year term ends in June 2015. McLendon is stepping down to concentrate more on teaching and research, according to a March 11 email sent to the Rice community by President David Leebron.
640 Rondelet tickets went on sale last Friday and sold out in 10 hours and 17 minutes, according to RPC socials committee member Jodie Nghiem.
The Rice Management Company, a division of Rice University that is responsible for managing the school’s endowment, is in the process of acquiring the Village Arcade Shopping Center, located in Rice Village, from current owner Weingarten Realty Investors, according to company president Allison Thacker (Baker ’96).
The following were noted at the meeting of the Student Association on Feb. 17.
The Rice University baseball team opened its 2014 season against No. 25 Stanford University this weekend with a strong showing at the plate. Rice earned a total of 29 hits and 18 runs in their three days at Palo Alto, Calif.
It's that time of year when, ready or not, you become unquestionably aware of your relationship status. Whether you're casually dating, going steady or living single, Valentine's Day can be a stressful experience.
This year's Student Association presidential debate provided a forum for the candidates to answer questions posed both by the Thresher and by audience members. After hearing the candidates' responses to questions on topics ranging from communication to constitutional amendments, the Thresher believes McMurtry College junior Trent Navran articulated the strongest vision for SA presidential leadership.
The Thresher staff is excited to see a return of past Beer Bike traditions in response to student feedback on last year's changes (see story, p. 1). The elimination of the second water balloon fight and the re-inclusion of the float parade aligns the upcoming Beer Bike with past Beer Bikes. The second balloon fight seemed an unnecessary extension to the first fight. Some colleges did not have enough balloons leftover from the first fight and thus shamefully withdrew from the fight. Some students also did not want to participate in the second balloon fight altogether in favor of food and rest.