Little Frenchie’s ... Life Changing, Really - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Home And Business

Little Frenchie’s ... Life Changing, Really

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2019 2:52 pm | Updated: 3:13 pm, Thu Jun 6, 2019.

The first time I ever had French cuisine, I was in my mid 20’s. I was a small-town Midwestern girl learning how to navigate downtown Washington DC, and while I considered myself fairly accomplished in the kitchen, my restaurant experiences were limited to mom and pop cafés, pizza joints, and a few “upscale” chain restaurants.

More than 30 years later, I still remember what I had: stuffed quail. Two gorgeously roasted little birds, on a bed of couscous, accented with bright vegetables. Life changing. Really.

French fare is the quintessential foodie food, and so more than three decades after my first otherworldly experience, I was more than excited about the opening of Blue Bridge Hospitality’s latest, Little Frenchie, located at 1166 Orange Avenue. The space itself is quite a change from the strong red and green colors that dominated the former West Pac Noodle Bar. The bar seating and tall tables have been replaced with small 2 and 4 top tables, red banquette window seats, accented with cozy white and blue café chairs throughout.

Executive chef Matt Sramek has put together a menu of classic hors d’oeuvres, entrees, and desserts, with each item annotated with a recommended wine pairing. Lucky for me, Champagne and sparkling wines go with pretty much everything, so on my first visit, I started off with a little splurge, a glass of Veuve Clicquot, while I perused the menu and awaited the arrival of my dining companion, local chef Celestina Ford.

Cel breezed in moments after my Champagne was served, and we set about the rather agonizing task of selecting our starters and entrees. We agreed on duck fat frites, because, well, who wouldn’t? Frites are the French/Belgian gift to the world, and no visit to a bistro would be complete without them. Served with house-made aioli, we dove in with gusto while we pored over the menu.

We knew we wanted to try a cheese platter, and we settled on the “Frenchie” platter, with three selections of sheep and cow cheeses imported from France. Served with crusty bread, the platter could have been a mini meal for two, and we enjoyed all three selections with Louis Perdrier Rosé, a nice dry bubbly with hints of raspberry. The favorite of the three selections was the Delice de Bourgogne, a classic triple crème variety made of cow’s milk.

After careful deliberation, we selected our remaining courses. We thought a salad might be in order, (because nothing makes you feel as virtuous as a salad, right?), and the Lyonnaise was the choice. If you’ve never experienced a Salade Lyonnaise, you’re in for a treat, and Little Frenchie does it right. A combination of bitter escarole and frisee lettuces, the greens are tossed with lardons (a fancy word for beautiful bites of bacon) and a mustard vinaigrette, and topped with a gently poached egg. Stick your fork into that egg, let the yolk finish dressing the salad, and take a bite. The bitter greens, bitey mustard and creamy egg all combine for a perfect taste and texture explosion. Plus, remember, it’s a salad. You’re being virtuous, so no guilt required.

As we were wrapping up with the salad experience, our entrees were delivered—cassoulet for Cel and chicken with truffles for me. Cassoulet is a traditionally a peasant dish, most often made with white beans, duck, and garlicky sausage. It is somehow both simple and complex, slow-cooked to allow the flavors of the meats to deeply season the beans while a crust forms to seal in the juices and flavor. A good cassoulet can be something of a religious experience, so you can have it at Little Frenchie and perhaps feel like you’ve gone to church. Served in a wide shallow dish, it boasts an entire sausage and generous portion of duck confit, and is the ultimate French comfort food.

My chicken with truffles was equally impressive—a full breast and leg quarter, it was perfectly roasted. The skin was crackly-crisp and golden brown, yet the interior meat- even the breast—was juicy and flavorful. Served with root vegetables and pan juices, it stands on its own as a perfect high-protein entrée, and will no doubt become a local favorite.

We made sure to save room for dessert, and while our server helpfully boxed up our leftovers, we chose our sweets from a few classic offerings. Cel opted for the lemon mille feuille, which translates to “thousand leaves.” It is a delicate dessert of puff pastry and fruit, and is definitely swoon-worthy. While I occasionally enjoy an airy fruit-based dessert, chocolate is where my heart is, and I knew I had to try the chocolate soufflé. Served piping hot, the server brings it to the table with a little pitcher of crème Anglaise, which is slowly poured over the soufflé to create the ultimate in dessert experiences. It is rich, but not overtly sweet, so it’s easy to finish the whole thing.

A few days after our initial visit, I realized that I had been thinking of Le Burger, featured in the entrée section, for several days. It was only right that I try it on a subsequent visit, since I consider a good burger something of a food group in and of itself. I met with another friend, and we started with the croquettes and onion soup. The croquettes, hot and crispy and oozing with cheese, are filled with ham and available on the happy hour menu as well as the regular hors d’oeuvres menu, and they are sublime. Kids will like these too—they’re kind of fun! The onion soup might have stolen the show, for at least a few minutes, until the arrival of Le Burger, anyway. Deeply caramelized onions and a rich, complex broth carry this hearty soup, and you’ll be craving it on those cool June gloom evenings.

Finally, we have Le Burger. This is not just any burger. It is LE Burger. It’s big enough to share, sure, but why anyone would is beyond me. It’s a big, bold two-fisted burger, topped with caramelized onions. When your server pours the melted raclette over it, you’ll have to stifle a little squeal. Don’t even try to be dainty while eating it. Just enjoy it the way it should be enjoyed.

While I haven’t had the opportunity to try Little Frenchie’s breakfasts or lunches (yet), they are open and serving omelettes, Benedicts, salads and sandwiches from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday-Sunday. Happy Hour, with discounts on select appetizers and beverages, is from 3 to 6 p.m. daily, with full dinner service starting at 5 p.m. Little Frenchie is located at 1166 Orange Avenue.

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