To celebrate the Fourth of July this year our whole family congregated in Milwaukee. Our first reunion event was, of course, dinner. Mom’s research brought us to Pastiche Bistro and Wine Bar, a “ten-table neighborhood restaurant” featuring traditional French dishes with locally-sourced ingredients.
On the window sill outside the restaurant we found fresh herbs, flowers, and even strawberries!
The decor inside was cozy and exciting. The tables themselves were quite formal with beautifully simple flower arrangements. I especially loved this poster and the tattered and worn Julia Child cookbook up on the shelf. I guess they also really like chickens. . .
We knew we wanted a Chardonnay, and our waitress recommended the William Fevre “Champs Royaux” from Chablis, France.
The wine was wonderful. Dry, crisp, and of course chilled nicely. We even considered buying some bottles to take home with us for later.
On to the eating . . .
Dad ordered the Salad Lyonnaise: frisee lettuce in a light dressing with bacon, Roquefort, and a poached egg. This photo was taken after the egg was popped, revealing an enticing gooey yellow interior, perfect for mixing with the salad leaves.
Next, oysters on the half shell with a red horseradish sauce and a pickled onion sauce. These were wonderful, and we all agreed we could have eaten at least another plate.
Then of course we ordered a cheese plate. This plate featured goat cheese, cumin gouda, some type of cheese similar to a mild bleu cheese, and another cow’s milk cheese separated by some type of grape ash. In addition to the cheese, there were fresh berries, crackers, honey, and bacon jam (ahhhh!!!!!!!).
The goat cheese was quite mild, and when eaten with the honey it was quite delicious. Even Mom liked it (which was truly a surprise as everyone knows she does not prefer goat cheese). The cumin gouda was profound and intriguing. The bleu-type cheese paired wonderfully with the bacon jam, which itself tasted like the smoky crunchy parts of a strip of bacon. The cow’s milk cheese was also very enjoyable, although it was not as surprising as the others.
At a French restaurant, of course we ordered escargots. These were more traditional than the ones I had in Albany, as they were cooked inside their shells stuffed with a garlic herb butter. I had never tried lemon with escargots, but it surprisingly paired quite well. The toasted French bread was to die for.
For the first entree (even though we shared everything), we had Beef Entrecôte Steak au Poivre – a strip steak encrusted with a thick layer of black peppercorns, finished with a cognac and shallot demi glaze, and served with sautéed spinach and dauphinoise potatoes.
I almost never order steak at a French restaurant (usually it’s the duck that does me in), so this was a nice change. The steak was very tender and juicy, and I really enjoyed the peppercorn crust. Christine had an end piece which she said was almost all peppercorns. The spinach was solid – not oily or buttery – and the potatoes were really done well.
Next, we tried the quail daily special. Served with green beans, roasted tomatoes, and a risotto with peas on the bottom, this was a wonderful dish to try. A mix of interesting flavors and textures, and a beautiful presentation.
Speaking of beautiful presentations, check out these profiteroles!
We were quite full after our dinner, but we agreed we needed something to cleanse the palate. These three profiteroles did the trick. One with vanilla ice cream, one with chocolate ice cream, and one with strawberry balsamic ice cream – topped with chocolate sauce, fresh berries, and powdered sugar – this was the perfect end to a lovely traditional-style French dinner.