Saturday, July 31, 2010
Quadra Island Mussels - harissa, fino sherry, lime gremolatta.
How to dine at one of Victoria's hottest French brasseries on a Saturday night? Go at 10pm, be nice and chances are you'll get a nice table and some wine.
That's my strategy for eating at some of the hottest places worldwide. Go early or go late. Most people want to eat sometime in the middle. Avoid those times. If you go early, then be prepared to finish quickly, as I did at Le Severo in Paris. That way, the restaurant turns their table, takes care of their reservations and you got to eat a meal at a restaurant most people can't seem to get a table.
The praise for Brasserie l'ecole is seemingly universal here in Victoria. Everyone says it's the best place in town. Guess that's enough for me since I'd prefer not to eat at Denny's. Located on Government in Chinatown, it's location seems odd to me. Garish Chinatown to the left and the hookers of Government Street to the right. Guess it's that way in case you want some exercise after dinner.
Medjool Dates with smoked almonds and roquefort cheese.
The food is classic French bistro cuisine. There's an assortment of offerings, like creamed morels, scallops, jamon serrano, poussin, duck confit and the like. However, I'm in the mood for more classic brasserie fare such as steak frites and moules mouclade.
Sadly, most places don't do a curry sauce for their moules but l'ecole is offering a slightly spicy harissa based sauce with local mussels. I opt for that, along with stuffed dates, to start and a glass of the 2007 Chateau Goudrelle Vouvray. It's a perfectly delectable pairing.
Steak - 10z angus NY striploin
Moving on it's Steak Frites and there's an offering of sirloin and NY striploin steaks. To be honest, I'm not a fan of the sirloin or striploin. To my mind, they're a North American aberration because North Americans are too "afraid" of French cuts. Give me onglet or ribeye and I'm very happy. Only offer NY Strip and I'm not impressed.
After spending over a week in France and being in a French-speaking country (Canada) and in a French restaurant, I thought my server would understand when I said that I would like the steak cooked "au point", but he didn't and medium rare would suffice. Oh well, the guy did give great recommendations on wine and mussels so all is forgiven.
The steak itself was cooked properly but the NY Strip lacks the bold flavor I prefer so it's just okay. Good, but okay. Topped with roquefort butter and served with a red wine sauce, it's a classic and paired nicely with a glass of the Chateau de Caraguilhes Corbieres.
The frites were offered either as "Classic" with sea salt or prepared in their special way with duck fat oil and parmesan cheese. Give me the classic preparation because I need no other!!!!
The frites were pretty good. A generous portion for the steak they're cut thin and just about as thin as I can stand. While I think that battered fries are an abomination to mankind, thin crispy fries are almost as bad and should be outlawed by the United Nations. Give me standard cut fries, double fried crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Short of that, these would do.
As I sat at my table, I couldn't help but express voyeuristic tendencies by watching the couple nearby. So in love, I thought. How pleasant. Holding hands, gazing into each others eyes. She's quite attractive and young. He's older and not as good-looking. What is his secret, I wondered? Maybe he's got something big in his trousers - like a wallet. Maybe he's a genuinely nice guy and landed himself a nice, pretty girl. Well good for them. I thought about sending over some champagne.
1715 Government Street
Victoria, BC V8W 1Z4