Alison Cook's Top 100: No. 58. Kris Bistro
The good-looking restaurant at the Culinary Institute LeNotre is a delightful surprise: run by talented chef Kris Jakob and courtly manager/maitre d’ Hussain Haddad (both instructors at the school), it is staffed in the kitchen and front of the house by rotating teams of advanced students. Ingredients come from the best, and, despite some unevenness, the results can sing. Jakob’s cold-smoked and slow-cooked chuck with pan-crisped spaetzel and sweet-sour red wine sauce is a brilliant contemporary take on Hill Country sauerbraten, with jalapeno and cilantro dancing on top. Must-orders: whole shrimp in a resonant, cognac-spiked sauce Americaine; hanger steak with bone marrow; house-made charcuterie flying from a baby clothesline. Even the green salads have style. A modest but well-chosen wine list at sensible prices, plus a view right into the gleaming kitchens, makes the experience even more fun.