We finally completed our ethnic dinner Achievement a few nights ago, with a foray into French cuisine.
I’ve had French cuisine before, and I had been hoping to take Michael to this fabulous little French place near Ohiopyle called Chez Gerard. It was in a converted old home, and it was lovely and charming and had a rotating menu and… apparently closed earlier this year.
So, we decided to pick between Pittsburgh’s two up-and-coming French restaurants, Paris 66 and Brasserie 33. As we were in the mood for an early dinner and Brasserie 33 has some excellent happy hour specials, the decision was made: we were off to Ellsworth Avenue to try some new French cooking.
Brasserie 33 is in the oddest place: it’s in a little strip-mall-like area where you would expect to find a laundromat and a takeout Chinese restaurant. But inside, it’s a charming little cafe with the kitchen just behind the tables, so you can get a smell-preview of your delicious dinner.
And then, they brought out the most majestic bowl of French onion soup of all time. That’s about an inch of thick, juicy cheese on the top! I’ve had a few bits of French onion soup here and there over the years, but this was by far the finest. It was salty and creamy all at once.
If you don’t know what escargot is, you’re in for a nice surprise. When my husband put the order in (I made him do all of the ordering, since his French is très bon!), he said, “We will try the escargot,” and our waitress said, “Okay, so, snails, an excellent choice!”
I was more than a little apprehensive to agree that snails would be an excellent choice, but I am daring and adenturous, so I was going to try it anyway.
…But it was not nearly as bad as I feared! The snails are salty, and the garlic butter sauce is so yummy. The texture of the snails is a little chewy, slightly chewier than calamari. Once you get over the weirdness of eating snails, it’s kind of a tasty appetizer! (And for $5.00, you can’t beat the price.)
Shortly after finishing our appetizers, our meals arrived. Our huge, gigantic meals. Michael ordered the bouillabaisse – a tasty stew-like plate with calamari, shrimp, clams, mussels, salmon, scallops and roasted potatoes.
I ordered the coq au vin, which is a chicken dish with onions, mushrooms, bacon and roasted potatoes in a red wine sauce. The carrots were melt-in-your-mouth soft, like the finest of stew carrots, and the chicken was so tender that I barely needed to use that massive knife to cut it. Our meals came with crispy baguette slices in a garlic butter spread with red peppers. Oh so delicious!!
We really loved our meal at Brasserie 33. Omar, the owner, visited our table several times to make sure the meal was meeting all of our expectations – and believe me, it was! He was incredibly polite and gracious, and the service from our waiter and waitress was excellent the entire meal through.
We finished up with some delicious dessert, but as that counts for a separate Achievement, I will make it its own post. Our visit to Brasserie 33 was so much fun, and we found out that we actually like French food other than French fries and French toast. Who knew? 🙂