October 7, 2015

Classics for a birthday

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So we're doing another dinner for Hello Kitty's birthday, and when it came time to pick a venue, I was pretty surprised to see her choose Hugo's.  Not only have none of us been to this place, none of us have been to the original incarnation of the restaurant, either... So it was new to all of us, and I was pretty eager to check it out.

I've been eating nonstop lately, so I wasn't in the mood to take on one of the tasting menus on offer.  I struggled to come up with the list of à la carte dishes I wanted to order, as there were simply too many of those classic, middle-of-the-road dishes that we no longer see at many fine dining restaurants today.  These include steak au poivre, Lobster Thermidor, Crêpes Suzette... etc.  The restaurant is also famous for their many dishes prepared table-side - again harking back to the old days - so I was determined to order something in that category.

First came the bread basket, bearing three slices of garlic bread, among others.  It's been a while since I last had garlic bread, and these were really good.

Prawn cocktail, iceberg lettuce, Marie Rose sauce - Hello Kitty ordered this for us to share, as it's kind of a childhood memory for her.  She was a little disappointed, though, that it didn't come in a cocktail glass...

These prawns were very plump and fresh, and we joked that the "Marie Rose sauce" was probably the simpler version using only ketchup and mayo... But it didn't matter.

French onion soup, onion and beef broth, cheese crouton - my last bowl of French onion soup must have been a few years ago, so I really wanted to see how well they do this classic.  Very, very good.  Underneath the big piece of cheese croûton is a soup that has plenty of beef flavor but without the salt, since it is infused with the sweetness from the onions.  Very well balanced.

Slow braised roe deer stew, spätzle, glazed apple, cranberry, cepe, ventrèche bacon - I love game, so I didn't want to pass up the chance to have roe deer.  Unfortunately the meat was too dry and tough, and braising didn't really end up tenderizing the meat when there's not a lot of sauce.  The pieces with some tendon were slightly better.  Love the croûtons and the cranberry sauce.  For some reason I didn't particularly enjoy the ceps.

The spätzle that came on the side was very good.

I love Brussels sprouts, especially when they come with bacon...  Here they use ventrèche from the southwest of France.

We also ordered a couple of side dishes to share:
Creamed spinach - a little on the salty side.

Rösti potato

I desperately wanted to get something that was prepared tableside, as we had repeatedly felt the heat on our faces when flames went shooting up from a nearby cart... such as when Hello Kitty's lobster bisque was prepared.  So I chose to have a flaming dessert...

Mango Foster, white rum, caramel, cinnamon, dark rum ice cream - apparently the mangoes came from Thailand and the Philippines.  The best thing was the scoop of dark rum ice cream on the side...

Apple tart tatin, French vanilla ice cream - the girls shared this and I got a taste.  Pretty good and nothing to complain about.

We finished with these chocolate ice cream bonbons.  Yum.

I fished out a bottle that I've been cellaring for over 15 years, and decided to pop it open on this occasion.

1997 Guado al Tasso - good sweet fruit, nice smokiness, earthy, woody, leather, lovely and fragrant nose.  Wonderful sweetness.

Other than the game dish, I really enjoyed most of the food I had tonight.  These were timeless classics that may not be so exciting, but you just can't go wrong with them, and they were all well-executed.  Now I know where to go when I need me some French onion soup... or prawn cocktail!

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