Chef Philippe Schmit Puts Final Touches On His New Restaurant – PS21- And Sets The Opening Date For March 9th

French Chef Schmit to Unveil His New Upper Kirby Restaurant
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PS21– the modern, French restaurant from Chef Philippe Schmit will make its debut in Upper Kirby on March 9th, in the space formerly occupied by Queen Vic and Olive & Twist (2712 Richmond.) After closing his eponymous restaurant 10 years ago, Schmit will tap back into his roots with a return to French classics that he grew up with and finds himself joining forces with hospitality veteran and business partner Sébastien Laval.

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“I am excited to get back in the saddle,” said Schmit in a statement. “PS21 will be a much more laid-back experience than my previous restaurants, as it will be more of a return to my roots and to the authentic style of cooking that I enjoy.”

The name, PS21, is not only a nod to Philippe and Sébastien’s initials but also the year his dream of opening the restaurant came to fruition in 2021. The 3,400-square-foot space has been completely reimagined by architects George Atala and Laval whose goal was to create a simple and modern space that seamlessly blends its indoor and outdoor spaces, with a clean aesthetic of rich wood tones, leather, vegetation, and soothing colors throughout.

“The concept of PS21 is to bring people together guests who are novices when it comes to French food as much as aficionados to eat delicious plates in a fun, convivial and relaxed atmosphere,” says Laval. The staff is here to give an experience to our guests taking them through the wealth of French culture and flavors but also the cultures that France has been in contact with for centuries.”

When guests enter PS21, they are met with a 12-seat bar with semi-private dining space to the right that seats up to 28. To the left of the bar is the main dining room with seating for up to 60 guests and features an airy and relaxed atmosphere, with white-clothed tables adorned with mini French vases, an oversized mirror is richly framed and lit, along with a boxwood wall against the back wall. Immediately off the dining room, guests will discover a patio that serves as a garden hideaway. Parisian-style double doors open onto a 24-seat patio enhanced with LED lights strewn along the ceiling and manicured planters lining each wall.

Schmit’s menu reflects a return to a style of cooking from his early days featuring French staples. The menu begins with an assortment of snacks meant to be shared- L’Apéro- which is one of the most typical features of French lifestyle: friends gather for snacks and cocktails or wine. L’Apéro includes Brandade of Codfish spread, codfish, potatoes, olive oil, and grilled focaccia; Tarte Flambée, thin bread dough, crème fraîche, caramelized onions and lardons; and Sardine Rillettes, slow-cooked creamy sardine preserve and bread. “After L’ Apero” is a menu of starters including, Steak Tartare Rossini, hand-cut beef, seared foie gras, truffle vinaigrette and toasted bread; a Foie Gras Terrine, with foie gras, artichokes, smoked duck breast, Sauternes gelée, kumquat and marmalade; and Lobster Bisque two ways, bisque topped with flaky puff pastry / bisque with fish quenelle.

On the heartier side, Schmit will bring seafood and meats to life with the Duck Breast Wellington, a flaky puff pastry, foie gras, braised mushrooms, fingerling potatoes and cognac sauce; Whole Chicken for Two, a semi-deboned roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, Philippe’s BBQ sauce; and the popular Steak Frites, grilled ribeye, house-made French fries, with a choice of peppercorn, bordelaise or béarnaise sauce. For today’s health-conscious diners dishes include the Seafood Bouillabaisse, grilled seafood, potato, leeks, fennel, saffron tomato seafood consommé, garlic toast, aioli; Grilled Mahi Mahi, mussel chowder flan, grilled leeks, black garlic condiment, lemon confit; and a tableside Raclette experience that features warm Raclette cheese, fingerling potatoes, salad crudité and charcuterie. Keto diet-conscious guests will also find various dishes sprinkled throughout the menu.

On the bar side, Laval and his internationally experienced Bar Specialist Souvik Dasgupta have created a seasonally driven cocktail program that offers an array of signature cocktails which is an ode to the Francophonie and the cultures of Asia, Africa, and North America that France interfaced with for centuries and that have shaped today’s French culture. The Montréal cocktail is a clarified drink using rye whiskey and Yellow Chartreuse and a play on the North American breakfast culture with cheerios, maple syrup garnished with a mini donut to develop the aromas while sipping. The Saigon cocktail is an agave spirit drink infused with Asian herbs in which an ancient French grape juice preparation has been added for balance. The Casablanca cocktail is a blend of French-Arabic culture with turmeric-infused rum, ras al hanout syrup, cardamom bitters, bergamot liqueur, and tonic. The Beirut cocktail is a take on a Negroni but with a Lebanese twist of Za’atar and figs, and is finished and aged in clay pot as per the Phoenician tradition. The Paris cocktail is a regional take on French 75 with the addition of Normandy cordial, a region located down the river Seine from Paris and famous for its pear and apple orchards. Paris is served with a mini in-house-made lemon macaron, one of the sweet symbols of Paris.

The 50-label French-only wine list has been curated by Laval to showcase France’s variety of terroirs with wines that are representative of their locations at prices between $49 and $250.

Post opening, PS21 will offer guests an early afternoon treat with an Apéro Hour featuring revisited classics to be shared.

Opening service will begin with dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday will open until 11 p.m. Brunch and lunch will follow at a later date.

Lisa Hay

Lisa is a staff reporter for What Now Media Group. She covers new restaurant, retail, and real estate openings across all of our markets. A true foodie, this Air Force veteran has lived all over the world — from Aviano, Italy to Nairobi, Kenya — but her favorite spot is NOLA for its rich history, architecture, culture, and of course, its good eats.
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