Our granddaughter Bella was staying the weekend with us. This was a first. We usually take Bella, her sister Sophia, and our youngest granddaughter Laci as a group to stay with us at the Fairfield Inn in Puyallup. As usual we plan to do too much, but it's easy to cut. Bella joined us for dinner with friends on Friday evening and then she joined me for dinner on Saturday morning, while Peg slept in. Around noon while I worked on some internet marketing for clients, Peg took her to the Tacoma Art Museum. Back home after they both had a nap we were out the door for dinner and a play.
Dinner was at Aviateur, Tacoma's only French restaurant. I dropped them off at the corner and drove down the street to park while they entered the restaurant. After parking I walked back and stopped to look at the interesting rock scuptures by the link stop. I was shocked by the sandwich sign out front of the entrance. It showed that Aviateur was open for lunch Tuesday through Friday. That information is missing on their website, which has them open evenings Tuesday - Saturday.
The interior is nicely done, but was missing patrons. Reservations directly across the street at Pacific Grill, reservations for early evening were non-existent. Peg and Bella were already seated and waiting for me. I was greeted in French as I sat down.
We looked over the menu. The prices were slightly lower in person than they were on the internet. It was a little strange, although we were one of the first people there, we were told that some of the items we requested were not available. A bread appetizer and a main dish were not to be had.
We had already informed Bella that we might order foods she was not used to. She was game, however. We ordered the escargot. Six were served with garlic and parsley and a small sliced baguette. Bella had two like Peg and I had and enjoyed them.
When my pate was delivered she sample some on a piece of bread. I enjoyed the stone ground mustard, and pickles, and the pecans, but I thought the pate could have had a little more seasoning. While Peg had a nice Savigon Blanc, I had a Shirley Temple with have a dozen cherries. Bella had a mango smoothie, which she really enjoyed . . . and later had another.
We shared my French Onion Soup all around, but both Peg and I thought it could have been richer. Earlier this fall we had a bowl of excellent onion soup in La Conner. Nothing satisfies like reduced beef broth with carmelized onions. The melted cheese on top was excellent, but I missed a floating piece of French bread on top covered with cheese. That's probably not authentic, but it certainly tastes good. Next time I might try their clam chowder.
We did have plenty of bread to dunk and sop. That's not elegant, but we like peasant fare.
For another appetizer, we had a rustic bread with cheese and fresh vegetable baked on top. It was like a thick pizza dough. We all liked this. Peg explained to Bella that this was something French workers might have for their lunch with wine. We ate our's plain and sometimes dipped in the onion soup as well.
Actually, this rustic bread and vegetable dish would be perfect for downtown workers at lunchtime . . . without the wine of course.
The vegetables were very colorful, which adds to the taste because you see how good it looks, and that enhances the flavor. It works. This dish would also be easy to create at home. After all, we have lots of squash and tomatoes here in Tacoma during the summer.
The Nordic Crepe is what Peg wanted to order. Perhaps, their crepe making sous chef was off on Saturday evening.
Without the crepe, Peg merely ordered the Plate of the Day, which was their version of chicken pot pie. The costs was only $14.95. That was a bargain. What was nice was the wide variety in pricing. There's something for everyone's pocketbook.
The chicken was one of the best dishes of the evening. Peg had enough left-over to bring some home for dinner the next night. One wonders how there would be no crepe at a French restaurant, but we made to, anyway. The chicken was very tasty and came with two little filo dough sticks for flacky crispy-ness.
There are enough items on the menu, to keep us coming back. That one was missing was no big deal. I actually enjoy sampling, but there were at least half a dozen entres that I wanted to order. You can't eat everything at one setting, however.
I ordered the Ginger Pork. It was my favorite of the evening.
The pork was tender, the sauce was excellent, and behind it all was just a little back bite of ginger. The menu reads pork shoulder, coconut milk, ginger, smoked paprika rice pilaf, and a petite salad. I don't recall the petite salad, but everything else was execellent. In the sauce there were beans for a little more flavor and texture. Interesting.
Bella enjoyed her Caesar Salad. If she was happy, we were happy.
Next time I'll probably have the Boeuf Bourguignon - Beef short ribs braised in red wine sauce, served with potatoes gratin and salad. Calling to Peg will be two lamb dishes and Noix De Saint Jacques Aviateur - pan seared sea scallops with lemon butter, sliced almonds served with potato puree, petite salad and it's own tangy sauce.
We had told the waitress that we needed to finish dinner by seven. Excellent service allowed us time for something sweet after dinner. Peg and Bella shared a lemon tart, while I had ordered a bread pudding. It looked like an upside down cupcake, but . . . as an island in a small lake for fresh cream was the dark blue/red bread pudding filled with a blue berry compote. I would have that again. We all shared, of course.
The bill including wine was just over one hundred dollars. That's a very nice price for excellent service and food. No one left hungry or disapointed. We were out the door by seven and within ten minutes I was dropping off Peg and Bella outside the Tacoma Little Theatre. I drove around the block and parked perhaps a hundred feet from their front door. The play was an excellent production of Second Samuel, a southern comedy with a message that let you laugh and enjoy the rest of the evening.
We finished off the weekend by taking Bella to breakfast with our friends at the Original Pancake House and then we treated my sister Deedee and Bella to a Science Fiction movie, The Fifth Wave at Point Ruston. What a nice weekend. We'll be talking about the food and the play for years.