Plans to escape a dull company holiday party with a walk-in dinner at Rouge are thwarted by a packed dining room, something I have never seen there on a Friday night: presumably pent-up demand from the prior blizzarded weekend. I like this place, so I'm glad to see it busy, but we're too hungry to wait 30 minutes for a table. Despite how frikkin' cold it is out, we must go to Plan B.
Navigating slush and tall snowbanks, we call around the South End, begging for a quick walk-in. Most places are quoting longish waits. Anchovies is jamming, an hour wait, no help there. We take a flier on Aquitaine, which mercifully can seat us right away. Ordering quickly, we get steak frites, onion soup, a cheese plate, and a couple of sides.
I'm impressed with the steak, which is sliced thin in authentic Parisian fashion. It probably doesn't need the added richness of truffle butter, but it's fine nonetheless. Very nice pile of not-overdressed watercress on the side.
Frites are obviously double-fried for nice crispness, but are thicker than I remember here, not the skinny straws I like at places like Sel de la Terre and Brasserie Jo. They look more like the fat fries I see at non-French places, and the added interior starch makes them less appealing, and definitely tougher to eat many of.
Still a fine meal, especially with a perfect side of haricot verts, and two lovely chocolate desserts: a not-too-sweet mousse served in a cocktail glass, and a fabulous plate of profiteroles. These are pre-sauced, unlike Brasserie Jo's "say-when" pour; the spare coating of chocolate is darker, richer, and superior to the Jo's puddle of lesser chocolate sauce.
Really good service from a tag team of four waiters and service waiters. We feel lucky to be rescued from hunger and the bitter cold despite our poor, reservation-less planning. A very fairly priced bottle of Cotes du Rhone does not hurt. Not the bargain meal that barbecue at Rouge would have been, but we go home thawed and satisfied. Some nights are just made for this kind of French food
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