Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bastille Day - Celebrating Old School Style

We've been fortunate enough to visit France several times. We love the traditional cuisine. No matter where we ate, it was delicious. If we are able we try to relive some French memories on Bastille Day and dine out at a local French restaurant.

This Bastille Day we visited a place that we had not been to in 6 years: Chez Max. Chez Max has that old school Americanized version of a French country inn. Dark paneling, country lace curtains, white linens, bistro-style chairs. Quaint and cozy.

We were warmly welcomed and we received attentive service.

[Just an aside on service. Actual French service is kick ass. The wait staff may seem aloof because they are not interested in your life or activities, particularly tourist activities; but their attention to detail and timing is impeccable. The silverware is replaced after every course; the wine is always poured before your glass is empty; the main course is never served before the first course has been finished and dessert is never considered until the rest of the meal is done. The pace is never hurried and we have time to discuss, consider, and appreciate the meal. We also experienced this type of service, for the most part, in the province of Quebec from the local pizza joint to the fancier places. I know that pay scales differ here and staffing constraints may be a challenge as well. I know it's a tough job; but after experiencing consistently great service, which is the normal expectation in France, I always make comparisons. I do appreciate the personable touch from a lot of the wait staff here in the Richmond area. If they could combine that quality with French-style attention to detail, the outcome would be the fantastic. Thank you for putting up with my rant.]

Now back to our Bastille Day celebration. Of course we needed to select a French wine, although Chez Max also has selections from other parts of the wine-producing world. We decided upon a 2009 Chateau Haut-Surget from Lalande-de-Pomerol. Hearty, yet smooth going down. A very pleasant combination and able to pair well with a variety of dishes.

Vintage Setting

We shared an appetizer special: Tuna Tartare with capers and pickled ginger. Yeah, this was good. A wonderful summer starter.

Tuna Tartare

For the main dish, hubby selected the Atlantic Halibut with a Dijon mustard sauce. The fish was very dense and meaty. He really liked it and I was much impressed with the bite I sampled.


And I had the only dish I could really have ordered: Roasted Duck Breast with green peppercorn sauce. It did not disappoint. The duck breast was pink and tender; the sauce, divine. The wine worked incredibly well with the meal. I loved the potato ring as well. A nice added touch.


We saved room for dessert on this evening. Hubby had the Creme Brulee and I decided upon the Chocolate Souffle. The brulee was lovely, warmed with a delicious sugar coating. The souffle was a bit disappointing. Instead of the delicate melt-in-your-mouth experience I expected, the dessert had more of a chewy texture. I would not order this again.

Creme Brulee

Chocolate Souffle

Traditional, old school French cuisine that met our expectations. Happy Bastille Day!

Bastille Day Tribute

1 comment:

losammon said...

Holy Moley! That duck breast... those desserts... Wonderful pictures, I'm so jealous of your restaurant outings! Everything looks so delicious! As for service, have you ever tried Lemaire in one of the formal dining rooms? They have a very high standard of service... You should check it out for sure if you've never been!