Bastille Delights During Restaurant Week
Winter Restaurant Week has come and gone and I hope you were able to take advantage of many of the delicious offerings of brunch, lunch, and dinner around Alexandria.
During the week, the Zebra herd visited Bastille, 606 N. Fayette. Chef/Owners Michelle and Christophe Poteaux created a three-course feast to delight the palate based on their regular menu. There are several dining rooms and we were seated near a window into the kitchen where we were able to view our meal being prepared. Noise levels were low enough for comfortable conversation.
We started our meal with a choice of appetizers including the Escargots and Chorizo with sautéed snails, chorizo, garlic, shallots, cilantro toasted baguette slices, and a garlic coulis.
Thank goodness there was plenty of bread on the table to sop up the remaining sauce because you don’t want to miss a tasty drop. We had Beignets de crevettes composed of rock shrimp savory beignets with harissa aioli and cilantro. I love these and hated to share them with the rest of the table. What would appetizers be without a Terrine de Foie Gras with cranberry chutney and honey spice bread? The terrine was an homage to everything wonderful about foie gras. Rich and creamy with just the right tang of the chutney. The beet salad of organic beets, oranges, baby arugula, pickled shallots, goat cheese, and walnuts is probably the best beet salad you will ever taste. Each bite provided hits of sweet, sour, crunch, and savory. The soup of the day was an amazing winter squash with crème fraiche. It was warming and homey, reminiscent of warm kitchens on cold winter days.
We moved on to the entrees. Again, we were greeted with an array of choices including the Bouillabaisse, a French fisherman stew made with shrimp, monkfish, scallops, and clams, cooked in a saffron shellfish broth with potatoes, carrots, fennel, onion, garlic, and tomato. The seafood was cooked perfectly. We kept asking our dining partner to dip pieces of bread in the broth for us – the saffron based broth was the perfect balance of savory and spice. The Cassoulet au confit de canard was a slow baked white bean stew with cured pork, Toulouse sausage, and confit duck leg. If you love cassoulet, this is a prime example of how it should taste. This is true comfort food whether you are French or not.
Another spectacular dish is the Moules d’élevages served with pomme frites. Chef Cristophe balances the white wine, shallot, parsley, broth, and garlic into this traditional preparation. The mussels and broth are irresistible. Bring on the bread and dip away! Unfortunately, the frites were not very good this night. Even a generous shake of salt didn’t help.
Onglet à l’échalotte, Pommes frites was grilled sliced steak in a Cabernet-shallot sauce with pommes frites and watercress. The steak was grilled to perfection and the sauce was an ideal foil. However, the pomme frites were not any better. The Mignon de porc aux Épices was a paprika and spices rubbed pork tenderloin over sweet potatoes and onions cooked “à la Lyonnaise” with Brussels sprouts. The pork was cooked to a medium rare at the suggestion of the chef and was a revelation in flavor and tenderness. Today’s pork does not need to be cooked to dull, choking dryness and Chef Cristophe understands this better than many. Each bite was better than the next.
Let us not forget third course. Chef Michelle is a pastry chef extraordinaire.The cappuccino espresso bavarois, composed of a chocolate soufflé cake with a chocolate glace, espresso bean crunch, Valrhona chocolate ice cream and sprinkle of cocoa was a wonder for the eyes and a party for the taste buds. The Gateaux aux Noisettes – Hazelnut truffle cake, pear compote, Valrhona Orelys whipped ganache, and pear sorbet. Aaaah! Not to be forgotten were the Profiteroles au Chocolat composed of “Choux” pastries filled with vanilla bean ice cream and surrounded by Valrhona chocolate fudge sauce. But, then again, there is the Valrhona Chocolate Roulade made with Valrhona bittersweet chocolate soufflé cake, chocolate pecan custard, pecan praline crèmeux, chocolate ice cream, and candied pecans. There are not enough words to describe how amazing this tasted. Visit Bastille for lunch or dinner, or in the afternoon for a light meal in the bar. You will truly enjoy yourself.