The first brasseries, in eastern France, were basically brewpubs, restaurants attached to breweries, and the name continues to suggest straightforward food and a convivial atmosphere. Gastropubs are their fashiopnable, social-climbing and candle-lit cousins, but most brasseries are informal, well-lighted places. The much-loved (and long-departed, pre-internet) Brasserie Pittsbourg was François Kissel's version, the first authentic French restaurant in Seattle, set in a white-tiled basement lunchroom in Pioneer Square. Ballard's new Bastille, also white-tiled, comes closer to the Paris model, however: the bustling, high-ceilinged, grandes brasseries , where you find staples like oysters, steak tartare and choucroûte garnie.
In Victoria, Brasserie l'Ecole gets it right with red walls, white tablecloths and a short, unfussy menu. Chef Sean Brennan keeps the food simple and tasty; his steak-frites is textbook perfection, enhanced by crunchy Kennebec fries. Sommelier Marc Morrison finds reasonably priced, matching bottles from international vineyards.They have a loyal following among Victoria's industry insiders, no doubt because so many newly hatched restaurateurs used to work there. L'Ecole regularly racks up "best of" awards, which aren't exactly unwarranted, but much of what we've been tasting around town over the past several days has shown greater imagination. There's great value in traditional French cuisine, however, and l'Ecole does French comfort food (onion soup, boeuf bourguignon) exceedingly well.Posted by Ronald Holden at December 6, 2009 3:54 PM | TrackBack
The International Kitchen
Cooking school vacations in Italy, France & Spain.