Tag Archives: french

Maamm Bolduc – 10.16.10

Maamm Bolduc
4351 Avenue de Lorimier
Montreal, Quebec Canada

The search for a real poutine led me to Maamm Bolduc in Montreal.  I heard good things about Bolduc from various web sources and despite a circuitous roundabout trek from Frontenac metro stop, we easily found the purveyor of potatoes in a quaint neighborhood perfumed with the intoxicating odor of frites.


Cheese burger and chips


The regular poutine side order, very tasty.

Maamm has a very bomhemian feel inside and out; decorations adorn the walls and drawings, signs, and pictures are hung everywhere.  A perfect place for artists, students, or locals to meet and eat with friends.

I was famished, and so I succumbed to the Bolduc burger with a side of regular poutine.   And just what is a poutine (poo-teen)?  A poutine is what disco fries should be:  french fries, gravy, and cheese curds.  This poutine had nicely fried but still moist and limp potatoes.  The gravy was magic; beefy, sweet, and spiced.  The cheese curds (think of a mild mozzerella) were ample and had some slight squeak but could have been bigger portions.

Good
The poutine, a great start in exploring authentic poutines.  Order a large.
Burger with creamy cheese, delicious
Hip joint and hangout

Bad
You WILL leave smelling like grease

Ugly
This caliber poutine can only be found in Quebec =(

Helfy is lovin’ this place

Le Central – 03.21.10

Le Central
8th Avenue & Lincoln Street
Denver, CO
303.863.8094
http://www.lecentral.com

Situated in the Capitol Hill area of downtown Denver, Le Central aptly calls itself “the affordable French restaurant.”  Although the decor, french offerings, and clientele may make this bistro look pricey, the price range is very affordable with fantastic french food.

The menu for Sunday brunch is diverse and covers all the French essentials from crepes to mussels to beef bourguignon.  Unfortunately, the Hachis de Boeuf (roast beef hash) was all out so I ordered the omelette aux champignons (mushroom omelette) instead.

The food here is as delicious as it sounds in French.  Don’t be bashful as the basket fulls of baguettes are brought to the table.  The crisp and soft bread is fantastic with the fresh sweet cream butter and best of all, they are continually refilled; and if the free bread is any indication of the rest of the meal, then be ready to eat like a gourmand.

The mushroom omelette comes out cooked to perfection; fluffy moist and not overcooked without a hint of browning.  The toothsome mushroom filling is intense and concentrated with earthy fungus flavor balanced by the gooey and nutty swiss cheese.  Accompanying the generous three egg dish is a large serving of smooth mashed potatoes and ratatouille.  Although the ratatouille had a touch too much herb de Provence, the presentation and more importantly the taste of the omelette is magnifique!

Good
Great tasting French for very reasonable prices
Mushroom omelette for $7

Bad
Will let you know when I think of one.

Ugly
The feeling of a full stomach but a mouth that still wants to taste more.

Bouchon – 09.06.2009

Bouchon
Yountville, CA

Bouchon is owned by chef Thomas Keller and is one of his three restaurants on the main street through this sleepy town.  Dave highly recommended this restaurant so I decided to take a drive from SF through beautiful Napa Valley to check out this bistro.  The amazing scenery and the perfect weather was a prelude to one of the best meals of my life.

I took this meal seriously; with notepad in hand, camera in pocket, I confidently walked in slightly after the lunch rush without a reservation.  I lucked out; I immediately scored a table even though the restaurant was still packed.  No wine or soda for me, I uncharacteristically ordered sparkling water to insure an honest tasting of this meal.  As I perused the menu, I settled into my surroundings.  Amidst the cool chaos and bustle of eaters and staff, was a tight but comfortable layout with ample sunlight reflecting in while still providing a degree of privacy.  The gentleman who was my server was very helpful and knowledgeable.  I quizzed him about menu items and he quickly gave accurate and flattering descriptions with a proper French inflection where needed.  I remembered Dave raving about the duck and since roast lamb is all too common and not too difficult to get right, French Duck for me it was along with a tomato fennel gazpacho.


Man does not live on bread alone, he needs butter! (on right)


Tomato Fennel Gazpacho w/ olive tapenade.

As I waited for the soup to arrive, I realized the level of detail put into this restaurant.  Everything from the decor, layout, service, and even menus was carefully thought out with the dining experience in mind.  A small but perfect example: the gazpacho, which is a cold soup, was served in a chilled bowl with a chilled spoon.  Little things, perceptible or not, made this meal memorable.  I am glad I made the last minute decision to order the soup, it was very good.  Yes, gazpacho is a cold tomato soup but is nothing like unheated Campbell’s soup.  It was smooth and balanced with a rich but not too sweet tomato flavor accented with fennel (like weak licorice or anise).  The olive oil drizzle and tapenade was a very nice garnish to contrast the not only the color but and also the taste of the tomato.


Magret de Canard et sa Cuisse Confite (Roast Duck breast and thigh).


Some things are best not described by words.


Strange coastline of alien planet or perfect plating and presentation?

The duck came out and I marveled at how it looked.  Served just as it looks in the above picture (with the restaurant name facing you at 12 o’clock).  I was expecting tiny portions but I should have known better, especially after that adequately size gazpach’.  The plate was a mountain of roast duck, Savoy cabbage, chanterelle mushrooms, and winter squash.  The spectacular plating was evident, just look at the perfectly placed fronds of parsley garnish and saucy slathering of huckleberry reduction intertwined with the criss-crossed scored chunks of medium-rare duck meat.

I quickly came to my senses and having remembered that I am having a civilized Sunday afternoon lunch in pristine Napa Valley, I resisted my inner desire to tear through this meal with ill regard.  I savored every bite with an occasional sip from my cool sparkling water.  I ditto Dave’s quote, “This is the best duck I have ever had.”  Although it looked red and undone in the pictures, it was cooked perfectly.  The flesh was juicy and supple shrouded in a crisp salty skin with all of its fat rendered out.  Dave was not exaggerating.  The accompanying veggies and fungi were perfectly cooked, and delicious!  Being in such a setting forced me to use proper knife and fork technique and to chew my food and oh how thankful I was.  I enjoyed every memorable minute.

I cleaned the plate and offered praises to my server about the duck.  Why stop such momentum of  a delicious lunch I asked myself.  I asked for the dessert menu to make this a 3 course meal.  My eyes quickly gazed onto the custard and I ordered it right away. I am not a dessert guy so the custard was a fitting end to the meal.  It was well made and not too rich or sweet.  The caramel was particularly strong and almost borderline burned.  I could not tell, as the duck from minutes before launched my taste buds into orbit and have yet to touch down.

This meal was a like a book:  the opening and plot as introduced by the gazpacho, rising to the climax of the roast duck, and the declining resolution by the custard.  I will not soon forget it and will want to re-read it.  An amazing 3-course lunch at a French bistro in Napa for less than $60 (not including tip).  Where else can you find this?  Definitely, one of the life-changing meals of my life.  Great job chef.

– Robert le Bruce


The unassuming French custard hides much below its surface

Good
Almost everything:  food, service, decor, atmoshphere, price.

Bad
Nothing.
It’s in Napa Valley and I am in NJ.

Ugly
Remembering this meal but not being able to eat it again.


Fin

Florent – 04.29.08

Florent

69 Gansevoort St.
Between Greenwich and Washington
(Two blocks south of 14th Street)
New York, NY 10014

t/212-989-5779
http://www.restaurantflorent.com/

Nestled in the ever trendy and popular meat packing district of Manhattan, Florent blended seemlessly into the faded industrial architecture that lines Ganservoort Street.  Except for the pink neon sign and front window brimming with patrons, you would never guess this street contained a restaurant worthy of dining.

It was a Tuedsay evening and Florent was PACKED.  Its foyer was turned into a makeshift bar with hungry eaters sipping wine before being seated.  Be sure to make reservations if at all possible.  There is counter seating which comes in handy if eating solo or with a partner.  Promptly seated once we all arrived, Eatclub dined on french style diner food.


Mini Louisiana Crab Cakes with Tomato Creole Sauce 6/10
Crab cakes were just average and sauce unspectacular.  Crabbiness is desired in only one thing in life:  crab cakes.  Not enough of it here.


Escargots in Garlic Butter ?/10
I was reluctant to try because escargots always remind me of a snail’s beady eyes on the end of its stalks.  Yech.  Any fellow eaters have a different opinion?


Duck mousse pate 8/10
The surprise of the evening.  I do not like pate but after reluctantly trying, it was tasty.  Very tasty.  Smooth and melt in your mouth richness without the usual liver flavor cringe.  And the portion was huge.  Great bang for the buck and bang in your mouth.


Roast free range chicken 7.5/10
Chicken was moist with plentiful portions of both light and dark meat.  Mashed potato and side salad were excellent.  Why the average score you ask?  I could not tell it was roasted or it was free range.  There was no roasted flava and the chicken just tasted plain.  Tasted like baked chicken without any herbs or special goodies.


Grilled Skirt Steak 7.5/10
Just tasted one bite but cooked to order and was tasty.  Fries and green bean sides were great.  You really have to try to mess up steak or to make it outstanding so slightly above average is what it is.


Steamed Prince Edward Island Steamed Mussels (7/10)
I am not a mussels fan but I did try one.  Tasted as it should but would have gotten a more fair judging had I eaten more.  But I will almost never eat mussels in a restaurant for reasons of my own.  Great value however as you get a heaping bowl full of the black bivalves for $13 clams.


Table of EC executives as seen from the kiddie table

Good
Affordable french food served diner style.  And its open 24 hours!
Pate is worth it and so are the mussels (if you’re into that sort of stuff)

Bad
Can get very crowded, as it was that Tuesday night
Tight space; even if you’re not 5ft and 300lbs. you will feel like it at your table.

Ugly
The front facade of the restaurant, ick.

EC these days always seems to end with trendy Korean frozen yogurt (aka Frogurt or Yozen).  Red Mango is on top of the pack and it was deeelish!

Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant – 04.14.08

Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant
302 George Street
New Brunswick
(732) 253-7780
http://www.darylwinebar.com

As I was waiting for the rest of our eat club
faithful to arrive, I looked around my surroundings, and
couldn’t help but be impressed by the ambiance
of the restaurant. “wow, even the bathroom is romantic”.
The restaurant was pretty empty – talking to the hostess,
recommendation is highly recommended Thurs-Sat nights,
but on a Monday night, it’s pretty quiet.
If you do wait however, there is an extensive wine
section where you can peruse at your pleasure the myriad
of wines. The wine connoisseur was quite knowledgeable – something
that they had that I never saw before – there was a circular
wine dispenser with about 15 wine bottles, you insert a prepaid card,
and a sample 2 oz taste of the wine will only run you $4-8


**** Dinner**
The dinner menu is broken up into two distinct sections.
The first section, the tapas, aka Korean bahnchan section is meant for sharing,
with little small “finger foods” priced between $5-12.

Between the five of us, we ordered “9 tapas”

*tapas*
tuna tartar, pink pepper crisp tuiles, green curry sauce
4 pieces
taste – 7.5/10
couldn’t see any green curry sauce, the tuna was noticeably chilled.

wild mushroom soup with chervil, light cream, vincotto
7.5/10
good, but couldn’t notice the difference between non fancy cream of mushroom soup


sweet long pepper stuffed with short ribs and eggplant
1 piece
8.7/10
order this dish. very tasty. although not the greatest looking dish.


mini burgers with applewood bacon, aged cheddar, arugula
and home made ketchup
2 burgers
8.45/10
a little hesitant to order burgers at a fancy place, but
well worth it. the home made ketchup made a difference,
the meat was very juicy. perfect blend of ingredients.


warm artichoke salad with Serrano ham, watercress and garlic confit
6.5/10
eh.


coca – thin crust pizza with caramelized onions, piquillo pepper, mahon chese
5 pieces
6.9/10
not that bad. not that good.


arepas con queso with creme fraiche and salmon caviar
4 pieces
7.8/10
some people really liked this dish, some people were so so.
i thought it was pretty good.


Parmesan gnocchi with squash, dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts
approx 5 pieces of gnocchi
8/10
gnocchi was perfectly cooked.

*signature dishes*


wild king salmon with squid ink risotto, roasted garlic red pepper broth
salmon disk was a bit small, but expected. nothing out of the
ordinary (if eaten alone) broth was tasty,
but a little too watery. risotto had a nice bite.
$24
risotto 8.5/10
broth 8.5/10
salmon 7.2/10
all three together 8.7/10

grilled flat iron steak with wild mushroom spaetzle, parsley puree, red wine sauce
9.1/10
the steak was very tender and the sauce was phenomenal. def get this dish.

*desserts*


chocolate tasting: white chocolate mouse, 2 mocha shots with orange foam,
caramel tart, flourless cake.
6/10 – wasn’t too impressed


pb & J
peanut butter mouse with a chocolate coating, these small chocolate coated
rice puffs that reminded me of rabbit poop, served with peanuts, and a raspberry
jam.
6/10 – too rich for me. a nice scoop of ice cream would have been nice. a bit
to cloy.

bottom line for desert- ehhh. not worth it. go instead to coldstone next door.
– – – – — – –

overall food:
7.8/10
the dishes were hit or miss. would have liked better consistency, but
thanks to eat club, i know now what to order, and what not to order next time.

decor:
great place to go for a date.
8.9/10

value:
depends
you can order a bunch of tapas and not order anything else, and pay only $15 bucks.
otherwise, our bill varied from 30-60 a person (including one drink)

service
8/10
came pretty often to take our plates. still, they forgot to bring my drink when i asked
(during the main dish, so -.5)
Conclusion:
if you want to go to a nice fancy, romantic place in jersey, go here.
pretty equivalent to the fancy shishy restaurants I’ve been in nyc.

– – Kangste

Scale:
10 – so good makes u want to cry/fart at the same time
9.5-9.9999 – superb. incredible. mouth watering
9.1-9.49 – really really really good.
8-9 – excellent
7.6- 8 – above avg
7 – 7.5 – average
6 – below average
5 – why even consider trying it?
1-4 – the feeling of being pooped on by a pigeon while walking in the city
0 – 1 – taking your finger, scooping the pigeon poop of your head, and eating it

——-

Bruce’s 5 minute DWB review:

Schnazzy place to wine and dine an colleague, significant other, or good friends. Forgo the RU football jersey and flip-flops for a night and dress up to sample some fantastic food and wine on this revamped side of George Street. The walls, chairs, ceiling, lights, silverware all scream attention to detail. DWB also sports a chic bar and private sitting area in the corner of the restaurant; definitely utilize when trying to impress your date.

Everything has a wine pairing, even the desserts; so if aged grape juice is your thing, then definitely stop by. The food is American with French/Spain influences and plenty of imagination. Quality overshadows quantity here so be prepared for small but amazingly tasty portions.

Briefly, the memorable dishes in no particular order are:

Tuna tartar – perfect cubes of oily tuna with a hint of ginger. VERY tasty if you like raw fish.

Arepas con queso – Flavor and texture balanced to perfection. This was my first arepa and certainly set the bar too high for lesser arepas. The arepa itself was light, slightly sweet and crunchy cornmeal cake. Expertly offset with the creaminess of the cheese and the fresh savory salmon caviar. Just try it. I didn’t even know what I was about to eat but soon it was a fiesta grande in my mouth.

Mini-burgers – Perfectly cooked patty with a coarse grind but still solid shape. Smokey bacon on top and seared beef was a marriage made in heaven. Very nice!!! (Borat)

Gnocchi – Not a big gnocchi fan but these gnocchis were worth mentioning. Perfectly cooked and pillowy soft. Slight caramelzation on sides gave it an added depth of texture.

Wild Salmon with Squid Ink Risotto – The salmon portion was larger than I expected but I prefer it slightly less cooked by a minute or so. BUT the dish was well worth it for the squid ink risotto. The squid ink definitely added a richness and lingering nutty aftertaste that made me come back for more. The roasted pepper and garlic reduction with clams on the bottom was a nice touch.

Overall, it may have been Eatclub’s most elegant evening. The pricing is very reasonable considering the caliber of food and atmosphere you are getting. What is also impressive is the attention to food and drink. Sustainable growing practices are preferred, organic wines and ingredients are emphasized as well as local suppliers (as noted by their draft beer selection). Daryl Wine Bar gets a manicured thumbs up.

Arabelle – 01.29.08

Arabelle Restaurant
37 East 64th Street at Madison Ave.
New York, New York
212-606-4647
www.arabellerestaurant.com

Tuesday January 29th at 9pm sharp!

Google Maps

Subway Map

FIRST COURSE

Salad of Baby Greens
Celery Root Julienne, Red Wine Poached Pears
Herb Goat Cheese Crouton, Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Cardamom Dusted Scallops
Parsnip Puree, Sautéed Snow Peas, Coconut Curry Sauce

Butternut Squash Soup
Maine Crab Meat, Toasted Chestnuts, Truffle Crème

SECOND COURSE

Braised Beef Short Ribs
Caramelized Pearl Onion, Sautéed Wild Mushroom
Truffle Scented Whipped Potatoes
Guinness Sauce

Roasted Chatham Cod
Asparagus, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Herb Whipped Potatoes
Lobster Emulsion

Provencal Shrimp Risotto
Piquello Pepper, Roasted Artichoke, Parmagiano Reggianno
White Wine Butter Sauce

DESSERT

Passion Fruit Cheesecake
Meyer Lemon Anglaise, Mixed Berries

Warm Pecan and White Chocolate Tart
Spiced Orange Ice Cream
Lingonberry Coulis 

-bru