Friday, June 24, 2011

A Bean Feast to Remember

I see in looking back over this month's posts that I have forgotten to talk about the restaurant where we held our last book club meeting.  It was Sophie's Bistro, a few blocks south of the Biltmore Fashion Square, and I hope to go back there soon.

Sophie's menu is full of old-style French fare: onion soup, escargot, mussels, duck confit salad, coq au vin, and steak with pommes frites.  They also offer some interesting specialties such as an organic salmon salad, "Le Artisan Burger" on foccacia, and rainbow trout with tarragon and shitake mushroom cream sauce.  Everything we tried was excellent and the prices were very reasonable given the quality of the food and the size of the servings.  I had the cassoulet, a bean dish which is almost impossible to find in this part of the world; it contained an entire duck leg rather than just a few shreds of anonymous fowl.

The restaurant itself is charming; it's apparently a converted home, with wooden floors, bright prints on the walls, and separate bar and dining rooms.  Equally charming was the service.  The waiters were attentive to our needs but we felt no pressure to finish and go, despite the fact that our large group tied up the center of the dining room for almost three hours.  The effect was very much that of a European dining experience.

I won't be able to afford a trip to France for a while, but if I save my pennies I'll be able to return to Sophie's for lobster bisque and magret de canard.  I can hardly wait.

"Cassoulet, that best of bean feasts, is everyday fare for a peasant but ambrosia for a gastronome, though its ideal consumer is a 300-pound blocking back who has been splitting firewood nonstop for the last twelve hours on a subzero day in Manitoba." ~Julia Child

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