Cafe Presse first bite report
- Charles Jun 22, 2007 08:29 AM
Went to Café Presse last night for a nosh and glass of wine and was truly impressed. It was only their 2nd night in operations so I was ready for some missteps but as the restaurant is a mere 6 blocks from my house I thought I would check it out, and I have to tell you the missteps were few, far between and miniscule.
My partner and I started with the pork rillettes with 2 mustards and a few cornichon. Very nice a bit too much what I think was clove in them for my taste but quiet good. My only complaint about this dish would be that the mustards and especially the cornichon were a bit too acidic for the wine I was having. We then had some divine pommes frites they were nicely crisp on the outside and pillowy warm on the inside what could be better. Served with your choice of catsup, a mayonnaise or mustard I was in heaven.
Next an arugula salad with goat cheese toasts, very nice although this too was a bit acidic for the wine. We finished with warm salami, tomato and cheese open faced sandwich perfect. This was also very good clean fresh flavors, the tomato even tasted like a tomato.
I can’t wait to go back, in fact maybe I will go see what their pastry selection is right now.
My wife and I ate at Cafe Presse Thursday night as well.
The front room, for those who have not been there is small with a bar and a handful of tables and of course the presse.
The front room was nearly full at 7pm (and it was a little hot) so we moved to the back which was twice the size of the front room and much cooler. It was very charming with painted wood tables, exposed wood ceiling and exposed masonry walls. The metal supporting structure I thought perhaps was because they removed a retaining wall but it is earthquake retrofitting. It really works.
The wine list is small with a few selections in each category. It is all French. Fans of Le Pichet will appreciate that wines here are available by the glass, demi pichet, pichet and bottle. We had a bottle of the Château d'Oupia Vin de Pays de l'Hérault Les Hérétiques. This does not get especially good reviews on Cellar Tracker but I thought it was very enjoyable with the food we had.
As for the food, the menu is exactly as advertised. It is comfort food and exactly what you would get in a bar or cafe in Paris. We had the chicken liver mousse with cornichons, mustard and cherries, an order of the falafel, a croque monsieur and the special gratin: cabbage, potatoes and bacon. Amazing. For dessert I had the chocolate chaud and my wife has a rice-pudding cake with cream and strawberries.
The host and server were friendly and accomodating. Our server demurred once that she felt she was running a bit slow and she was obviously still getting up to speed but in reality the pace was perfect. I felt neither rushed or neglected.
Overall it was a great first visit. I will be back.
My husband and I went Saturday afternoon. The front room was almost full so we sat in the back. I really like the place, the service was great and the food was very good. I had a sandwich and the tomato and olive tapenade salad. My husband had the tomato soup and pommes frites. The menu reminded me very much of a Paris cafe. It's a great spot.
Had dinner here this week and was impressed - sat in the back room and enjoyed plenty of good food. Tomato/tapenade salad was a standout; the hanger steak and steak tartare both perfect. I didn't feel the need to give my standard "when I order rare, I mean rare" speech either, and it (the hanger steak) came out perfectly rare. Yum fries. Had I bought a copy of Le Monde it would have been rather close to some fond memories in Paris.
Will be going back frequently to sample the whole menu, especially for late night dining, where options in this town are so limited.
Seated in the back room, corner, where the tables were so close together the waitress
had to lean over stangers to take our order and hand over the food. Tasty, costly, crowded---rather like Paris in the summer without the French, full of earnest foreigners aching for the French experience (which if they really got they would hate). No doubt someone likes
this style of eating elbow to elbow with your neighbor and hearing eveyone's private conversations, but it is not me. Prefer old Le Pichet, it has
character and charm and delicious food.
A friend and I ate there a week or so ago and we both ordered Steak Frites, both medium-rare. Both came out of the kitchen almost raw inside. Back to the kitchen then back to us; this time just barely rare. The cook obviously wasn't doing his/her job. If you're going to mess this dish up you're going to mess up a whole lot more.
I've found that what is medium rare for me, some would consider rare. I think the doneness range of meat is very much a personal thing. It's a very hard thing to get right for everyone. If you google the temperature ranges, you will find very little agreement as to what corresponds with what. To me a steak cooked above 130F has started to become medium, but many people would still call 130F the top end of rare. I believe the FDA calls medium rare 145, which to me would be medium well to well done.
Of course, temperature guides are only good for cooking at home. When in a restaurant I've never been to before, I ask for the bottom end of medium rare. If it comes out the way I like, that's perfect. If it is overcooked, I know to ask for rare next time. If it's underdone, next time I'll just ask for medium rare.
Alternatively, you can ask for your steak in more descriptive language saying "I want the center warm and slightly red, otherwise pink." If you are this specific, and it doesn't come out the way you want you can really say that the cook messed it up.
I agree with vanillagorilla...doneness of beef is a personal thing and also very easy to miss...a matter of less than a minute and your medium rare steak has become medium. I generally order my steak medium rare and am accustomed to it coming anywhere from rare to medium. If it comes rare or medium, I generally accept it. But if it comes medium well to well in a good restaurant, I would not hesitate to send it back.