French Louie

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Was it a coincidence that I found myself in a French restaurant the day after the tragedy in Paris? Probably not. I’d been to Paris more than once and every time found it hard to leave. It’s one of those places you visit feeling “I could live here.”

At a small bar upfront locals eagerly noshed and drank as if drawn by Toulouse-Lautrec.

I wasn’t the only person looking to run into the arms of French food that night. What that says about me specifically, I don’t know. I didn’t take up arms to fight the good fight, I took up a fork to feed myself. I’m deeply disgusted and sad that these atrocities are happening all over the world, and yes, especially in the Paris I love so much. What can one ordinary fella do 3,624 miles away? Pas beaucoup.

I did a little research and landed on French Louie.

Doug Crowell and Ryan Angulo, masterminds behind local favorite Buttermilk Channel, opened this Boerum Hill eatery in 2014. We didn’t have a reservation, but it was early and they had maybe two tables free.

“This place is packed,” I said to Kim.
“Good sign,” she answered.

The ambiance is authentically Parisian, from high banquettes along the wall to the otherwise understated decor. At a small bar upfront locals eagerly noshed and drank as if drawn by Toulouse-Lautrec.

I wanted a dirty vodka Martini on the rocks but, in an effort to expand, ordered the Chespirito – mezcal, tequila, lime, hibiscus soda and cinnamon. Nicely smoky and not built to knock you on your derrière – even after drinking two quickly. Kim had the Templeton’s Mule – gin, ginger, lime, luxano abano, and soda. Not bad, for a gin drink.

I didn’t take up arms to fight the good fight, I took up a fork to feed myself.

We decide to do some small plates and share one large one – to leave room for dessert. Some beautifully Grilled Octopus with panisse and lemon tahini hit all the right notes and left us wanting more. Same for the excellent Steak Tartare, resplendent with egg yolk, chile oil, and pickled mustard seeds. As a young man I wouldn’t touch octopus or raw steak with a ten foot pole. Now I was about to dive in sans cutlery.

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We had to try the Foie Gras Au Poivre with poached pear, spice cake, and sherry vinegar gastric. It was a delicious flavor combo, for sure.

“A little small,” Kim remarked. “Think about how much foie we got at Avant Comptoir in Paris for like five Euros.”

Next up, we shared the Buckewheet Pappardelle with oxtail ragout, beet greens, shallots and horseradish. Nicely cooked pasta with tender oxtail, and only a hint of horseradish, because Kim accidentally ate most of it with her first few bites. As you can tell by the picture below, it’s impossible to take a good picture of a salad in subdued lighting.

“We’d like to send these back,” I joked to the waitress, gesturing to our very empty plates.
“No problem,” she smiled. “I’ll let the chef know.”

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We topped the evening off with some serious eye-candy;  Profiteroles made with cardamom caramel and pistachio ice-cream. Sweet and creamy are my middle names, but Kim tends to like things a little less obvious. That didn’t stop her from scooping up the caramel with a spoon.

Kim and I headed for the F train, content and not too full, a bit lighter in the wallet, and dreaming of Paris.

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