Dinner in Bordeaux

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Fines de Claire in Bordeaux.JPG Steak-frites at l'Entrecote.JPG

One of the good things about international travel conferences is that they feed you. And feed you reasonably well, for the most part. (They, in this case, being the French Tourism Development Agency known as Atout France.) But that's also the downside, because, if you know your way around, there are both specific new things they don't serve, and familiar things you yearn to taste again.

I've been back from the most recent trip for over two weeks now, and can still taste these two dishes, which I consumed with great pleasure on a night that I played hookey.

On the left, above, a plate of oysters, fines de claire vertes to be exact, identifiable by the distinct green tinge on the gills. That comes from the algae in the tidal ponds where they "finish" these oysters, in the estuary of the Marennes river north of Bordeaux. They were 9 euros for 6 at a lively spot called la Boîte à Huîtres, on a broad pedestrian street behind the Grand Théatre. Add 2.50 euros for a glass of bracing Bordeaux Blanc, and another 2.50 for a little sausage that's (almost) always served with local oysters here. Didn't need the sausage.

On the right, the main course at l'Entrecôte, a grilled flank steak, thinly sliced and topped with a secret sauce. We can go round and round about which cut of beef is best for this; top round works, boneless rib-eye works; it hardly matters. The key is the sauce, which for sure contains butter, probably includes anchovies and mustard, works well whether you throw in a ton of herbs or keep it "simple." At one point, a French gastronome "revealed" that the secret ingredient was chicken livers, a claim flatly denied by the restaurant's owners. (Various incarnations of l'Entrecôte around France are all owned by the same family. There are now several imitators in North America, none in Seattle.)

Dinner starts with a salad of butter lettuce and walnuts, then comes the steak (the only question you're asked is "how do want it cooked?") and unlimited pommes frites. The price is 16 euros, about $22. A bottle of house red is 12 euros, desserts are 6. The Scottish-plaid and yellow decor, if you can call it that, will induce halucinations but the waitresses, in tight skirts and high heels, remain unfailingly cheerful. They may not have a website, but there's always a line out the door.

La Boîte à Hîtres, 36, Cours Chapeau Rouge, Bordeaux, France
L'Entrecôte, 4, Cours 30 Juillet, Bordeaux, France

And, yeah, I know it's 4:20. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on April 20, 2011 6:00 AM.

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