Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


The Cremant Experience

Steak Tartare
Steak Tartare,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I'll say off the bat that my experience at Cremant was fabulous. I recommend it without hesitation and can't wait to find an excuse to go back myself. Chris said his meal at Cremant was better than his recent meal at Bouchon.

We first asked our waiter to please throw in an order of the marrow bones while we decided on the rest of the menu. The marrow takes about 30 minutes to prepare and we knew before we even arrived that we wanted that. I followed up by asking for a wine recommendation that would please me (who doesn't like white) and Chris (who doesn't like red). After assuring us that we could order by the glass from across the menu if we so desired, he recommended a Joël Rochette Beaujolais that was just perfect.

In addition to the marrow, we ordered the sardines and the Rillettes au Crémant. The rillette was glorious. Fatty, smooth, and rich as hell. I had to stop myself from eating it so I would have room for my dinner. In fact, if I hadn't woken up still full from dinner I'm pretty sure I would have woken up craving this on toast. We paid the $5 deposit to take the rillette home in the little French-style canning jar it's served in. Now I have an excuse to go back... I have to bring the jar back for my refund, right?

The restaurant is tightly packed and the tables are very close together, so I couldn't help overhearing what the people closest to us were saying. To my right there were three ladies, who were just as interested in us as I was in them. One of them clearly knew the owner (from eavesdropping, I found out that she and the chef's co-owner/wife were both named Tanya).

At one point as I was diving into the Rillettes au Crémant for a second round I looked up to see Tanya and her friends scrutinizing me. Tanya said "You've ordered the rillette and the marrow. Who are you people and why don't we know you?" At another point, another one of the women piped up to say she was on the verge of exchanging numbers with us because she wanted to eat with us! LOL. In a move completely out of character for me, I gave her my e-mail address because I overheard her talking about where she lives (Georgetown, which is just on the other side of the freeway from us in an old industrial area that reminds Chris of NYC and is slowly becoming ever more hip) and how she got into scotch ("I have lots of friend who drink scotch...") and it was clear that we had a lot in common and are practically neighbors. So wacky! I never do things like that!

Next came entrees: steak tartare and frites for Pramas and blanquette de veau a l’ancienne for me. Until this meal, Red Square in Las Vegas was our standard for tartare. Cremant beats Red Square hands down. I'd read a diner's review of the tartare that complained it was too strongly flavored but after one bite I dismissed that as foolishness. The tartare arrived in an obscenely generous portion was perfectly prepared! My fork-tender veal was braised with mushrooms and onions, served in its own personal Le Creusette right to the table. Very subtle, especially compared to the tartare but savory and delicious. I have not one complaint.

On the other side of us a couple came in and they also started chatting with us! The woman of the couple was there to celebrate her birthday, too, so we toasted our mutual birthday together and started chatting about the tartare and the cassoulet. The guy was a huge cassoulet snob, or so he told us, and then gushed about how perfect his cassoulet was. The cassoulet was another dish I had considered ordering and after his glowing table-side review I simply must go back and try it. Apparently the bouillabaisse was also excellent.

I knew I must have some dessert so I set aside a portion of my dinner to take home. We contemplated ending the meal "Christine-style" with a cheese plate of some sort (Cremant has a cheese menu with 15 kinds of cheese to choose from, including a fondue option) but I'd discovered during my research that Cremant offers a cognac au chocolat that reviewers universally crowed over. The Tanya Table ordered these and the words "alcoholic chocolate pudding" hit my ears. I knew it must be mine. And it was! And lo, it was good. I had to stifle the same lick-the-container urge that I get when eating Tojo's baked oysters. Our waiter assured me that they would normally put a candle in my dessert but under the circumstances that wouldn't be possible. I assured him I appreciated the thought.

Turned out to be a glorious evening, really fun. The service was great (if perhaps just a touch slow...since we weren't in a hurry this was no problem), the food was exceptional, and I actually had a great time chatting up total strangers. How cozy! And reasonably priced for what we got... the portions were surprisingly generous and if we hadn't been celebrating and gotten the bottle of wine and one more appetizer than we really needed it would have been even more affordable.

Blah, blah, blah. I could ramble on. Had a great time. Be sure to check out the photo set!


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