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Belleville report

Walnetto | Nov 9, 2003 08:28 PM

I was treated to dinner here Friday night and based on the one meal I had would go back. My friend and I ate exactly the same thing, so this report is based on one meal only -- onion soup, grilled scallops and apple tart with ice cream for dessert, a glass of chardonnay on the side. The onion soup was the traditional browned onions, bread and melted cheese combo we all know and love. No surprises, but I lapped it up. The scallop dish, a special, consisted of just four scallops sitting on top of a small mound of sauteed spinach centered like an island in a shallow sea of very finely pureed potato. Balanced atop the scallops was a nest of very thin frites. Very pretty and I am happy to report -- very tasty as well! The apple tart was the standard-issue thin apple slices in a pastry crust. The vanilla ice cream was nothing particularly special, but was sitting on a bed of what I think was very finely ground almonds, which certainly helped.

Complaints: both the soup and scallops were too salty. Definitely could have toned that down a notch. I do think four scallops is a bit skimpy for a main dish. (Don't know what it costs, but I wasn't paying, so I didn't ask.) The "glass" of wine was more like a half glass. These weren't big goblets, either. Is it asking too much to "fill 'er up"?

Ambiance? It's basically a brightly lit room with a bar in one corner, tables lining the walls and also scattered about. It's cheerful and convivial -- a noisy neighborhood hangout that just so happens to be serving French food. Informal and kind of fun. But it is not for those quiet, romantic trists (Cocotte) or Serious Eating (Bistro St Marks). Kids are welcome.

I found the service very good. When my friend reminded the waiter that he'd forgotten to charge us for dessert he corrected the error, but then thanked us by giving us the coffee gratis. Merci!

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