Dreaming of a French Bistro
The picture has nothing to do with the subject, I just like it. That’s a juggler balancing himself on top of a ladder doing a street act in Covent Garden.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
There used to be a French restaurant in Lafayette called Le Chevalier. Very popular, and got some recognition from the Michelin people. Eventually, it closed.
Now there is a new French place in its stead, Reve (which is French for dream). We ate there tonight with Mike and Gretchen. I came out speaking French. Incroyable!! Magnifique!! Formidable!! Pretty amazing since I don’t speak French.
The secret is Chef Paul Magu, who has worked for the almost mythical master chef Alain Ducasse and then was chef at the Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis in San Francisco. This man brings some serious chops to the kitchen.
Reve calls itself a “bistro”, a casual, homey sort of place. Don’t believe it. This is a serious joint, with serious high-quality food and prices to match. You won’t pop in here for a sandwich and a cup of soup anytime soon.
The facility has tables both inside and out, much like the Parisian bistros it seeks to emulate. On a warmer evening we would definitely want to sit outdoors in a lovely garden setting hidden back from the street.
You can’t go to opentable.com to make your reservation, you have to call them, not that they answer the phone during the day. Just leave a message and they will call late afternoon when the hostess comes to work. That’s definitely the second best way to do things and I hope they change soon.
I have a theory that the hostess will always try to give you the worst seat in the house, and if you’re silly enough to take it that one problem off her plate. That theory held true as they showed the four of us to a tiny table with only 3 chairs. I’ve seen this gag before, so I refused and they found us a standard four-t0p, eventually getting 4 other suckers to sit at the tiny table they shoved in to squeeze out a few more covers (entrees in restaurant speak) every night.
The menu is French, French, French. It couldn’t get any Frenchier if you were in Paris. Lots of very good things on it. I passed on the foie gras, but had to have the vichyssoise.
We’re in California, so Chef Magu has re-imagined the classic cold potato soup with less cream, not pureéing all the vegetables. topping with a hint fresh sprouts and a few drops of truffle oil. It was magnificent and half as rich as the original. The tiny diced potatoes and leeks give it a crunch not often found in cream soups.
Venison isn’t common on menus here in the ‘burbs, so that’s what I ordered, officially the noisettes de biche. I received three perfectly cooked medallions on a plate with pureéd celeriac which was one of the most interesting vegetable treatments I’ve ever seen. You really should try this dish. The venison is like a very fine grained beef, farm raised of course so there is no gamy flavor. The accompanying vegetables were excellent. Don’t overlook it just because it’s different.
Gail had the steak frites to her great satisfaction, and Gretchen tried the special, which was pork tenderloin. I heard nothing but good words about all the food.
I really, really like Reve. It’s an excellent, authentic French restaurant right in the heart of downtown Lafayette. The kind of place you can just pop in for a quick Tuesday night meal or plan a fancy celebratory dinner. Either way you’ll enjoy it.