Sunday, January 31, 2010

Belle Vie - French (or Belgian) Comfort Food

Before Richmond received an avalanche of the powdery white stuff my spouse and I attended a basketball game to see my niece kick some b-ball behind on Friday. Hey M! Great form! Keep up the good work!

The game ended around 7PM and we found ourselves on the Southside, figuring out what to do for dinner. We ended up at Belle Vie located in the Alverser Plaza off of Huguenot Road. We chose wisely.

The man who greeted us turned out to be our waiter and the wine guy. We took our seat in a back booth near the kitchen and while this may not have been a stellar location, the aromas emanating from the kitchen were mouth-watering. Has any restaurant attempted to put together a menu by smell? Could be intriguing. The back of the house location did give us an opportunity to admire the decor and observe the wait staff, the Chef, and the Pastry Chef work the room. We heard both English and French. And my friend Eiffel Tartan would be pleased to know that I distinctly heard the Pastry Chef say dix-huit and understood that she referred to the number 18 (did not understand anything else, mais c'est la vie!).

The wine list featured a variety of French offerings with other old and new world bottles as well. The wine by the glass list was also fairly extensive. We went for a 2005 Chateau Maurac Haut-Medoc.

What a delightful Bordeaux. Fruity and ready to drink, but enough structure to hold up to a great piece of beef! We were quite pleased with our selection.

To eat we started off with a shared Frisee aux Lardons. I'm always a sucker for this salad which generally consists of frisee, poached egg, and bacon. Belle Vie's version presented the requisite ingredients along with some diced tomato and a creamy dressing. While I prefer a vinaigrette for this salad (and maybe a touch of bacon grease), this version satisfied me. And since we had stated up front that it would be shared, the staff plated it on two plates and presented the poached egg on a separate plate so we could divide or fight over it. I won. Hats off to the wait staff/kitchen in this attention to detail.

For entrees Belle Vie enticed us with all manner of delights: Coq au Vin, Moules Frites, Boeuf Bourguignon, Duck in Orange Sauce, etc., etc. We decided upon beef dishes. My hubby chose L'Entrecote Beurre Maitre D'Hotel - Ribeye topped with a parsley and shallot compound butter. He also ordered Gratin Dauphinois as a side dish. I ordered Le Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce. A tiny side salad of mixed greens in a creamy mustard sauce accompanied both steaks - to be consumed as a digestif after the meal. Both steaks were cooked to medium rare perfection. Hubby loved the parsley and shallot butter and I enjoyed the Bearnaise sauce which was served warm in a small ceramic gravy boat. I did have to remind the staff that my filet was missing the Bearnaise, a minor glitch in the service. My hubby praised the balance of the side dish of potatoes. A lovely mix of thinly sliced potatoes, cheese, and nutmeg. None of the ingredients over-powered the others.

While desserts tempted us, we had no room. Next time we will plan accordingly and try the Apple Tart or the Dame Blanche - Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce and Whipped Cream.

To top off the evening we saw Farouk. He had been our favorite staffer at Can Can and we had missed him. We were glad to become reacquainted at Belle Vie.

We had a delightful experience and must cross the river again to try more French/Belgian comfort food.

Belle Vie European Bistro on Urbanspoon


Nsidestrate said...

Farouk is the best! There is always room for chocolate mousse.

balufeb1 said...

Good post, nice blog. Thanks for share. I like this post.

Jolly Juicer said...

Nice to hear your take on Belle Vie. I know Farouk, and the guy who used to run wine there. Both are great, and it's good to hear that the awesome food we had when we went still endures. I would love to see Belle Vie become a great restaurant wine destination for the south side, as we need it!!!
B, The Local Plate
PS thanks for checking us out!

Eiffel Tartan said...

I will have to check out Belle Vie, especially since it's on my side of town! Plus we're always looking for places to take our French Club. Félicitations pour ta compréhension! ;)