Ever since they took their basket of croissants off the menu and my sister moved to Westchester I have only rarely returned to Belleville. Although beautifully adorned in inviting brassy bistro décor, I have never been particularly impressed or cared to afford its offerings. Indeed, I unfairly tend to denounce local French fare as rich and pretentious. This Brunch, however, did more than deter my morning hangover, it made me fall back in love with French technique.
The meal began with a black pepper speckled Bloody Mary, bright red, pungent and spicy. All my liquid needs accompanied including strong coffee and Lemony cold Water.
A beautifully plated Pork Pate platter followed ($8.50). At first glance, I questioned its singularity. I tend to expect pate as a tasting exercise in different texture and technique, but how could I possible complain. The mustard was creamily tangy, the cornichon’s crunchy and the mixed greens conservatively dressed. Though not spreadable, the pate left me happily perplexed. Its pink hue, meatiness and form were unequivocally enjoyable. My bistro needs were further realized by the springy basket of bread. I almost forgot how much I love a good baguette.
And then it happened. Those damn eggs followed! Two pillows of perfection; a coagulated shell showcased all the different possible textures of the whites. With a light score of my knife the yolk leaked without drowning the plate, a bright yellow glistening film. To be clear, I never order poached eggs. The balance always seems off as if $12 doesn’t warrant the care. But this dishes excellence was not only in the poaching. As if beautifully seasoned soft spinach swimming in rich hollandaise wasn’t enough, a light, just-melted, cheese rested atop to make sure all of the elements stayed in place. It was as if the melted cheese had been strategically placed to perfect the plate. Heaping forkfuls followed. I loved every bite.
Strangely, the clichéd unhurried and rude French service felt justified.