Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bastille Day recap 2: Gallic pleasures at the Brewhouse.

Following is a submission from reader Amy Clere, who attended the Brewhouse's Bastille Day function. Thanks for the review, Amy -- it brings joy to the heart of this inveterate Europhile.


Your Bastille Day extravaganza was a delightful surprise! Indeed, Roger, you’ve got the best-kept secret in New Albany. Thank you for hosting a Bastille Day dinner, and thanks for embracing so enthusiastically the glorious culture of France!

On those occasions when I’ve been in France on Bastille Day, I’ve gone to dinner with friends where we could watch les feux d’artifice (fireworks). Bastille Day in France is typically called le Quatorze Juillet (the Fourteenth of July), just as we refer to Independence Day as the Fourth of July.

Because I am less enthusiastic about beer than about all things French, I hadn’t yet visited your new Brewhouse and I see now that I’d been missing out! When Ed and I arrived there last night, we were most graciously greeted by both your waitress and the atmosphere you’ve managed to create out of what was once a local bread-box of a building. The décor is wonderful, the colors are warm and inviting, your set-up (the bar, your mini-bars around the room, and the congenial set up of tables) made it easy to socialize with friends…On top of that, we admired your brewing vats (visible behind the glass wall in back), and the terrific set-up with the garage doors. Ed and I could easily imagine how it would look arranged like a European café, with seats indoors and out on the nicely widened sidewalk in front. We also appreciated that it is an adaptive reuse of the building in a way that makes it a contributing part of our historic downtown.

And, oh, la, la….la gastronomie! (And Wow! The food!)

One look at the menu, and we knew that your Executive Chef Joshua Lehman had planned a treat we’d not soon forget. It was a difficult choice, actually, but after les Gougeres, I chose Pâté. It was very good, and I tasted some of the Vichyssoise (Ed’s choice), which was wonderful! After that, Ed had your favorite, the Cassoulet. I tasted this too, but liked even better the Quiche Lorraine (which was PERFECT!). Oh, how suddenly I felt I was back on la Rue de la Liberté in Dijon at my favorite café. When I lived and worked there (as a photojournalist), I would take my lunch hours—because, in France, you get two or three hours for lunch—and dine happily on Quiche Lorraine while watching passersby.

The cheeses were just right, and went very well with the beer I chose (La Choulette “Les Sans Culottes”), and the Mousse au Chocolat was tasty and pretty at the same time.

Chef Josh had done an exceptional job in his presentation of these tasty courses, and I tell you quite truthfully that I have not experienced such a delicious meal since the last time I visited France, in 2007! All was absolutely wonderful!

Add to all this the collection of Francophones you’d gathered together for this event, the willingness of our waitress to learn a French phrase or two (and she did well, too!), and the European travel stories shared by you, our host, and it was quite an evening on Bank Street!

Ed expressed what I’m trying to say in fewer, and better words: This was the most sophisticated meal we’ve EVER had in New Albany. Indeed, the meal was sophisticated without being pretentious, and it was French while appealing to the American palate.

Chef Josh came to our table and shared his daily lunch and dinner menus. Oh, la, la encore une fois (Wow once again)! For lunch, he offers Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame (traditional must-try lunch fare at French cafés), among other tasty treats (soups, salads, les Pommes Frites).

Dinners promise to be as delicious as our Bastille Day experience where he and Sous Chef Andrew Gunn offer small and large plate meals to tempt just about any palate. You can order Duck Confit , Mussels, Beef Short Ribs, Scallops, Pesto Lasagna, and Croque Madame. Chef Josh told us he occasionally makes the delicious, and now famous, dish, Ratatouille.

Needless to say, we’ll be going back soon! Roger, bonne continuation! That is to say that we hope you keep it up and we wish you the best!

Thanks again for celebrating le Quatorze Juillet!


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