The appetizer plate at Bistro Des Arts features a generous slice of chef Georges Guy's duck confit pate en croute surrounded by little piles of salad. I liked the potato and tuna combo a lot. A bottle of mustard dressing was served on the side. Manager Monique Guy recommended a glass of Muscadet. She came over to my table and chatted a while.

Bistro Des Arts has been open for two months now, and business is slow. There was no one else in the restaurant on Monday at one in the afternoon.

Georges Guy has retired from more restaurants that I can count. He left Bistro Provence to his son; his daugher-in-law Genevieve Guy runs it now. He retired from Chez Georges, in the building where Feast was located, for several years.

Bistro Des Arts
12102 Westheimer

Then he came out of retirement to open La Brocante Cafe on Kirkwood just south of Westheimer. At that charming little spot, Monique sold antiques and Georges cooked French classics. It closed when Georges was diagnosed with cancer.

The couple moved home to Provence so Georges could recover from years of treatment. They were supposed to open a bed and breakfast, but Monique told me that they returned to Houston after getting into a lawsuit with their French contractor. And so Georges has come out of retirement again, this time in an ambitious 80-seat restaurant and wine bar in the former location of Mumbai Spice on Westheimer near Kirkwood.

For the main course, I got poulet maringo en feuillete, translated as natural chicken pie marengo on the menu. Chicken marengo is a dish that was invented by Napolean's chef—typically, chicken sauteed in olive oil with garlic and tomatoes.

At Cafe Des Arts, it was an individual-sized oval baking dish filled with chicken chunks and vegetables in an olive oil, garlic, and tomato sauce covered with a feuillete, or pastry shell. The dish was pleasant but underseasoned—I liked the unadvertised appetizer plate better than the main course.

The three-course lunch was priced at $17 and included dessert. I went for the baba au rhum cake, which came topped with whipped cream and raspberries. It was delicious, but extremely rich.

When I asked chef Guy what kind of food he is cooking these days, he replied, "I am trying to keep it simple." But he said that old habits die hard. Searching for words to explain himself in his broken English, he made one of those observations that's meant to be matter-of-fact, but ends up sounding profound:

"Simple is difficult."


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