Wednesday, July 21, 2010

LA NOTE RESTAURANT PROVENCAL - Voulez Vous Manger Avec Moi, Ce Soir?

Cafe Au Lait
La Note is a simple place. Laying just across the Oakland - Berkeley border, this lovely little French “Breakfast Bistro” is a quick trip to from my office of a workday. Arriving there, one feels instantly transported to the countryside outside Paris, say Giverny. Occasionally, I am desperately in the mood for a Croque Madame, and they serve a perfect one here. The BH adores breakfast of all kinds, so I am always able to drag him in for some tasty nibbles.

We were tired, so we had coffee when we got there. The BH ordered a Café Au Lait which arrived as a perfect, albeit large, bowl of creamy caffeine goodness, and it didn’t hurt a bit that it was served up by a lovely French- speaking waitress. I think much of the help here is imported, as there is always at least one or two people on site who clearly speak French as their native tongue.

On to the food. The Better Half ordered the Ham & Cheese Omelette or as they say in Giverny, an Omelette au Fromage et Jamon. Breakfast food is hard to screw up, and they do it very well here. The omelette arrived fluffy, airy, eggs well- blended, cheese spread about in all the right places. It’s also a good size, not too much, not too little of anything. The house potatoes are roasted and chock full of chunks of soft, creamy cloves of likewise roasted garlic. The bread is fresh baked and spectacular. It is thick, earthy stuff that one imagines slathering with butter and eating in the barn with the animals while doing chores on the farm. Hearty peasant food.

Whenever I’m here I almost always order a Croque Madame. One of my favorite treats, this sandwich of runny-yolked eggs over ham layered beautifully over two thick slices of freshly made bread. The eggs are cooked perfectly. Just enough to firm up the whites while leaving them soft enough to mix easily with the yolks when broken with a fork. The ritual of breaking the eggs in this dish is my favorite part. I savor it, letting the soft yolk of the eggs slowly melt into the sandwich, making its way across the cheese and ham, mingling into this nice sort of semi-liquid omelette over bread. It’s pretty much all about cooking the eggs correctly. When the broken-yolk egg train hits the softened but not yet melted cheese and then the bechamel sauce — ah it’s heaven.

So that’s all. Little bit of orange juice and the meal is complete. I’ve had dinner here once, and that was likewise heavenly. I believe I had a Rattatouille then, and it was all manner of well cooked vegetables and rustic flavors. This place is consistently good, turning out classic French countryside cooking just this side of Berkeley.

Check it out, and as always Bon Appetit! (Which in this case is extra appropriate!)

La Note Restaurant Provencal
2377 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704-1552
(510) 843-1535

Service: pleasant, not overly speedy.  Might want to make it a long lunch!
Dining time: see above
Noise: close, wooden tables, gets a bit loud - 2 bells
Cost: moderate

1 comment:

  1. Wishing there was a lovely La Note in the South Bay. Will have to try if I am up that way. My husband's fav is the classic Croque Madame. Thanks for sharing!


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