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ADVICE FOR VISITING FRIENDS

old friends (and eager eaters) coming up from san francisco for a few days - he is convinced that only "french" cuisine is worthy and regrets missing out on le gourmand. she is chinese (hakka) and will miss the hakka place formerly on aurora. in addition, she is temporarily in a wheelchair but lightrail to the id is possible. they'll be staying in the market but the local bistrots (le pichet, cafe campagne) aren't quite "fancy" enough for him and i have been disappointed in both marche and rn74. so i need to find A/nearby and accessible B/hakka (or similar) and C/classic french - 'hound help deeply appreciated.

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  1. Good luck with finding classic French. Seems like everything French around here is bistro type. Rovers has fancy French, with prices to match, and is very good, but not classic to my way of thinking.

    9 Replies
    1. re: PAO

      I agree PAO. All things classic French in this city are pretty much bistrots. Good among them in addition to Le Pichet and Cafe Presse are Viola! in Madison Valley, Bastille in Ballard, Place Pigalle in The Market and Le Grande Bistro in Kirkland. I'm sure there are others as well.

      1. re: firecracker

        It's sad the Gerard's Relais de Lyon closed all those years ago. It would have been a good bet. It was my first French food in a restaurant so I'll always miss it.

        It's been quite a while since I've been to Maximilien so I don't know how they are currently but the menu does have a lot of classics.

        1. re: knowspicker

          It is astounding how high end French has gone so out of fashion.

          1. re: PAO

            My sense is that it's harder to find such things as sauce perigord and grand marinier souflee in many cities. The trend at very high end places that are nominally French seems to be molecular and or hyper local/seasonal (a la Noma). In some ways its a positive develoPment, but there remains a place for sole cooked in butter. I think the brasseries are hitting the spot for most diners.

            I think I understand why Rovers does not rate as "classic," but he is probably the closest.

          2. re: knowspicker

            I'm glad you mentioned Gerard's. Like you, I miss it (a lot). There was something special about that location and space that added to the whole experience.

            There really is a niche for old school French fine dining that needs to be filled here.

            1. re: Gizmo56

              I too love classic French cuisine and miss Gerard’s Relais de Lyon. This thread also reminded me of a wonderful meal that I enjoyed shortly after I moved to Seattle in 1972. It was at the Mirabeau Restaurant, located on the top floor of what is now Safeco Plaza (then the Sea-First Bank Building). Although plagued by chef changes, Mirabeau had some very competent classic French chefs at the helm during its existence. At that first dinner at the Mirabeau, my first course was an ethereally light, deeply flavored classic Quenelle Lyonnaise made with pike. Oh my! Crepe de Paris, when Dominique Place was the chef there, and his subsequent restaurant in Madison Park, Dominique’s Place (which closed in 1990), were also venues for wonderful classical French cuisine.

              1. re: Tom Armitage

                ...sigh. More good memories, Tom. Mirabeau during those years also had some great stuff on the wine list. Crepe de Paris was also a fun spot, in those formative 1980's years.

                Thanks for jogging my memories of the awakening Seattle restaurant scene.

                1. re: Gizmo56

                  Yes, I had many wonderful meals at the Mirabeau and Crepe de Paris. And don't forget Pavillon, the Kissels' place in Occidental Square. Gerard's Relais de Lyon had a predecessor, same house, but for the life of me, can't remember the name. There was a time in Seattle where the only French food was Brasserie Pittsbourg and Henri de Navarre in Edmonds (famed for its rack of lamb). Alas, I was just a kid and never ate at either

                2. re: Tom Armitage

                  Oh, Tom! You take me back in time..... I miss all you mentioned.

                  Dominique Place was a family friend, and we used to visit his places several times a year. He also cooked for my family at our house once. He offered me an apprenticeship when I was 14 - wish now I had had the guts to take him up on it!

                  I would love to go back and eat at Miribeau again - the only place I have ever had those quenelles... Keep missing them in Paris nowdays. Sigh.

        2. You guys realize that this is how it is in France too, right? Old school fine French dining is not really that popular even there!

          3 Replies
          1. re: christy319

            christy,

            There is some space between "not really that popular" and non-existent.

            McDonalds and Katy Perry are popular. That does not make them superior.

            Classic French cuisine remains the wellspring for modern culinary arts. The techniques and ingredients, properly executed by a skilled chef, still (and always will) produce an outstanding dining experience.

            We live in an era of restaurant food fads, where every chef is expected to produce something entirely new, which is then pronounced as dated by the trendanistas after a three week shelf life. That's all well and good, but again I will say that there is an unfilled niche for at least a single classic French restaurant in the Puget Sound region.

            1. re: christy319

              christy, I beg to differ - there is certainly a very exciting trend of new 'bistronomique" cooking all over France - but the ol' Michelin Macaron system is alive and well - even if a bit of a dinasaur.... Many a well-heeled Frenchman still keep the current guide in the car and consult it until it is dog-eared all year.

              Check out the France board, and you will find plenty of discussions of classic French food, as well as newer cuisine innovations. I know firsthand - my recently ex BF is from Paris France, and we have dined VERY well there in many classic places....

              1. re: gingershelley

                There aren’t many advantages to being an old fogey, but one of them is the memories of eating the creations of some great French chefs in the 1970s and 80s – Paul Bocuse, Michel Guérard (where I chose his classic dishes over his cuisine minceur), Alain Senderens (at L’Archestrate), and others. But the sweetest memory of all was at Frères Troisgros in 1983, when both Pierre and Jean Troigros were working in the kitchen. Jean died shortly after this visit in August 1983. My then-wife, oldest daughter (who was living in France), and I went there for dinner. Although the entire meal more than met my exalted expectations, I was particularly intrigued by an appetizer called simply “sole et lasagne,” consisting of ribbons of sole fillets woven together in a quilt with multi-colored pasta, and robed in a light sorrel cream sauce. As a serious home cook, I was intrigued by how they had cooked the pasta and fish perfectly together as a quilt, given their different cooking times, and held the fragile quilt together during the cooking process. As he was making his rounds in the dining room, I asked Pierre Troigros, “How did you do that?” “What are you doing tomorrow morning?” he replied. So it was that I spent four hours the next morning in the kitchen of Frères Troisgros, attentively absorbing the inner workings of the kitchen of one of the most heralded restaurants in the world, and learning how to make “sole et lasagne.” Talk about lucky breaks!!!

            2. I know this is late, but no Rover's love?