Posts Tagged ‘Le Pichet’
Our French friends scheduled a weekend brunch with French acquaintances and I flippantly mentioned Café Presse. I had a moment of panic as we walked up to Capitol Hill and realised we would be sharing a meal with five French people at a French restaurant that I suggested. I was relieved when I remembered Café Presse has the same owners as Le Pichet.
At the intersection of 12th, Union and Madison, our group huddled in the crowded entrance as we waited for a table. With an exposed brick wall, skylights and a high ceiling, the dining room and bar was buzzing with energy. I scanned the diverse collection of publications on the newsstand and introductions were made.
We followed the maître d’ through to the back and were seated in the corner. The milky sky was surprisingly bright and we appreciated the natural light. A sideboard was laden with coffee and wine accoutrements.
We shuffled along the wooden bench as the tattooed and ringed waiter took our beverage orders. My Caffé Vita mocha was prettily decorated with a rosetta.
My favourite question of the menu was ‘how do you pronounce that’! I considered the pain au chocolat à l’ancienne (bittersweet chocolate melted on baguette) to nibble on while we perused the menu but I refrained. We sampled the assiette de charcuterie, a plate of country ham, sausage, terrine, rillettes and tongue with cornichons and bread.
We each ordered the croque madame or croque monsieur, some with a side of pommes frites. Topped with a glossy sunny side up egg, the sandwich of baked ham, Gruyère and béchamel bubbled and blistered. The viscous yolk and just set egg white tempered the saltiness of the meat and cheese layers. It was hearty French fare!
We whiled away the afternoon, our expat conversations interspersed with French.
After sampling an ice cream float of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams‘ cherry Lambic sorbet and vanilla bean DRY Soda, we crossed the street to Le Pichet for lunch. An overcast and humid day, we dined al fresco, Parisian sidewalk style.
Le Pichet is a charming place with the menu in French first, then English. There is gold cursive French phrases etched in the glass pane and the window is adorned with a vase of beautiful pink blooms.
The lunch menu is divided into sections of snacks, salads, charcuterie, mains and cheeses. It was a quick French lesson for me! Ms K ordered the baguette and Ms M the lentils and beets salad. The second Ms K opted for two eggs broiled with ham and Gruyère, a brightly presented dish with the aromas wafting across the table.
I was keen on tasting more of the local spring asparagus and selected the dish with Gouda, poached egg and lemon vinaigrette. If only I could pronounce ‘asperges de notre région au vieux Gouda et son oeuf poché’!
The salad reminded me of the book Eat Pray Love. In Italy, the author buys a bunch of asparagus from the local market and cooks a simple lunch in her apartment. An emotional Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, ‘for the longest time I couldn’t even touch this food because it was such a masterpiece of lunch’. I did pause to admire the beauty of the assembled ingredients but did not hesitate to break the yolk!
I mopped up the leftover dressing with a side of pommes frites. These were delicious French fries - just the right thickness and the perfect homage to the humble potato.
Dessert as a first course, lovely company, delicious food - it’s the definition of joie de vivre!