Hello fellow hounds--
My wife and I had dinner at Le Grenier. This is probably my third or fourth time there. Here is how it went:
On the last Saturday in June we arrived at 7:30 and the dining room was about half full (I had made our reservation only a week ago. Jean Dupon answers the phone himself apparently. We were seated in the middle of the dining room just a little too close to two other tables for my taste. I just like to have a little more room--not a big deal.
Our server asks us about bread for the table saying that they have fresh bread and garlic bread available and that we can have either type or a combination of both. We opt for the combination. When we get the bill we find that garlic bread costs something like $3 or $4--no big deal but we were not told about this up front. The money is irrelevant to me but when restaurants do this it drives me crazy. That said, the bread was very tasty although the butter that came with the bread was almost frozen it was so cold.
I started with the mussels and my wife had the fried mushroom ravioli. The mussels were very clean--free of sand and beard. Every mussel was also open. The mussels were prepared with tomato, onion and garlic in a white wine broth. Each one was very meaty and flavorful--YUM. About two dozen medium sized mussels came with my order.
My wife's mushroom ravioli were fried and with a pleasant crunch to them. They were circular and about 3 inches in diameter with five on the plate. The filling was shitake mushrooms that appear to have been sauted in red wine and perhaps a little bit of garlic before being stuffed in the pasta. They look like they were dipped in the deep fryer because they were very evenly fried. They came with a rich creamy sauce with a bit of sweetness to it. Very tasty.
For main courses, I had the steak with shallots and my wife had the veal. The steak was a lean NY strip cut grilled medium rare exactly as I had requested it smothered in diced shallots that had been sauted with garlic and red wine. This was enough shallots to cover the meat and then some--plenty to have some with every bite of the meat. I would have gotten the steak au poivre flambeed table side that everyone seems to always be getting, but the time I tried it, it was a bit too much pepper for me (my personal taste--not a critique of the dish).
The veal had been flattened out into cutlets and sliced into perhaps four inch lengths and then grilled. It came out with a heavy, old-school French cream sauce. There was so much of it that the veal was swimming in it. They probably could have gone easier on the sauce as it overpowered the veal a bit.
Time for dessert. I had the creme caramel and my wife had a chocolate mousse cake. I thought the creme caramel was nice but just alright. Perhaps I chose poorly but our served assured me it was very good before I ordered it. Perhaps I am spoiled because a place called Azafran in Philadelphia about five blocks from my house has truly extraordinary creme caramel. My wife was very happy with her generously thick slice of the mousse cake which she described as light and rich.
Apart from the bread incident I mentioned and recommending the creme caramel (which in fairness if I had told her I ordinarily get some of the best creme caramel around in my opinion, maybe she would have suggested something else), our server was very nice and attentive. The pace of the meal was just right--not too slow or too quick. Our meal lasted about an hour and forty five minutes--perfect for us to finish our bottle of wine. We put our cork on the ledge of the skylight over our table and said goodnight Messr. Dupon who has always been very nice to us even though we go maybe once a year.
Zagats criticizes the place for having a dining room that is a bit worn and drab. I must say I like it and find it homey--it seems the place is weathered and has taken on character with the years just like the cedar shingles on the island homes.
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