My parents took us out to L'Auberge Chez Francois to celebrate my brother's birthday. He had the sad fortune of being born a week before Christmas and thus through much of his childhood getting combo presents from his sisters. We are better now.
The meal was completely fabulous, per usual. My sister, my father and I ordered kir; my father thought it was a trifle sweet, but we thought it was perfect. They brought out crusty bread and a soft garlic cheese, and a little gift from the chef of wedges of quiche Lorraine. But not the sort of almost rubbery kind that gave it a bad name, no, a delicious creamy soft version with heavenly flavor. Then I got a tuna martini, which is chunks of tuna tartare in a glass with assorted greens and caviar. The wonderful thing was that with each kind of green, the taste of the tuna changed; it was meaty with endive, spicy with the daikon sprouts, tangy with the arugula, and I think my favorite was with the scallion, which just gave it amazing richness. The house salad was also perfect, flavorful without going overboard with the bitter greens like too many salads I have at high range restaurants, and with a garlic crouton that used raw garlic so that it had the burn as well as the flavor.
Next I had oysters with bernaise; my dad ordered raw oysters and we traded off a couple with each other. The cooked were salty, but not too salty, just like I like them, and the sauce so tasty that I mopped up the mixed oyster juice and bernaise with bread afterwards. The raw were good plain, but completely amazing with the vinegar dipping sauce that accompanied them. Pear sorbet with crystalized violet to cleanse the palate after.
Lobster stuffed with crab was my main dish, which you can hardly go wrong with, but hidden underneath it like a little treasure was a timbale of the most fabulous corn flan, which my dad liked so much when I made him taste that he ordered some himself. It was accompanied with tropical fruits; kiwi and mango and grapefruit, which I never would have thought of as natural company with lobsters, but mixing fruit and meat together in a bite turned out to be amazing; the fruits were all tart and cut the almost overrichness of lobster perfectly. The chef gave us another little present, a puree of squash and carrot and other vegetables. I don't like squash much, and I don't like cooked carrots, and I loved this. I even ate every one of my green beans, which my parents can tell you is not the usual case; I would never have a problem eating enough greens if I could eat at Chez Francois always.
My father had a wild game plate, which he enjoyed but was pleased to note that his own venison was still superior, which I had to agree with upon tasting. Mom had Dover sole, my sister the vegetarian a selection of braised vegetables, and my brother the same lobster as myself. The wine was perfect; the sommelier suggested an Alsatian white that went well with all our dinners, and in fact we ordered a second bottle. My dad did beer instead, a Belgian one that had a second fermentation in the bottle, which makes for a most enthusiastic beer.
I had the chocolate souffle for dessert, as did my sister and mother; my brother had plum tart and my father flan, each delicious. They brought out another little extra from the chef, a leaf shaped cookie and a tiny chocolate truffle, one good and the other spectacular. It was only the size of a thumbnail, but any more would have been too much, it was that rich. And last they brought out a raspberry and cream dessert with a candle in it for my brother. They have sharp ears, those waiters at Chez Francois; we had only mentioned it in passing in table conversation.
It was delicious food, and equally good to sit and eat and talk with my family in the sort of long leisurely meals and conversations we like.