Saturday night after the movie, we went out for a late dinner at Le Charm, a fine French bistro at Fifth and Folsom.

Le Charm is a very small building, but they have a lovely patio area which is tented in the winter and quite warm with propane heaters.  We were fortunate to be seated there and enjoy the rain pounding down on the canvas roof, then running down the clear vinyl sides which we could see through to the nicely lit garden area.  It was like being outdoors in the rain, yet still warm and dry.

BJ, Michael and Harry


Our waitress had a delightful French accent–whether it was real or she was just a French major from Visalia we’ll never know.  In any event, the menu is tres French, and we started with the charcuterie plate, because the onion soup Gail and Harry ordered takes 20 minutes.  But the soup arrived steaming hot and delicious, so it was time well spent.

Butter lettuce salad


I’ve had a plethora of fancy salads lately; it was a pleasure to have a simple butter lettuce salad with just a hint of carrot and tomato and a proper vinaigrette.  Sort of a perfect counterpoint to the wretched excess of the Ferran Adria in the movie we had just seen.

Gail and Harry each had La Marmite of seafood baked in puff pastry, although Gail promised to hand Harry all of her mussels since she doesn’t care for them.  It’s a beautiful dish:

La Marmite of seafood baked in puff pastry, artfully lit with two candles and a bread plate.


I rarely order meat when we’re out, usually I have the fish.  Le Charm, though, tempted me with their special–a pork chop.  Not just any old pork chop, but one from a local farm raising Duroc pigs, which are more of an heirloom breed.  The waitress said the chef prepared it “medium” and was that all right.  I replied that it should be medium at most, and got my wish.  I think this was the finest pork chop I have ever eaten.


Pork chop, red cabbage and potatoes.


We were too stuffed to contemplate dessert, although the profiteroles looked awfully tempting.

In the age of nouvelle cuisine and molecular gastronomy, it’s a pleasure to find a classic French restaurant that does things the old fashioned way–not fancy, not precious, just good food well served in nice surroundings.


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