Friday, December 12, 2014

Béarnaise

Béarnaise embodies the experiences of Chef Spike and his sister, Micheline, growing up among fabulous steak frites in Montreal and spending time cooking, exploring and living among French bistros in Paris. This restaurant located in Capitol Hill serves French fare in a casual-chic, social atmosphere. Closest Metro is Capitol South.


On this windy and chilly night, I was craving mussels so Keith suggested we check out Béarnaise.  We were seated upstairs and I was surprised to see the same casual decor as his other restaurants We the Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery.  Our server greeted us right away and informed us of the night's specials.  First, we ordered a bottle of Chateau De Parenchere Bordeaux Superieur 2011, a deep French red wine.  All bottles are $40, or you can order wine by the glass for $10.


I was originally planning to order one of the mussel pots.  Instead, one of the entree specials seduced me so we decided to order Escargot as an appetizer to share.  Sauteed in garlic, parsley and pernod butter, these little snails were large and chewy and served in a little egg-shaped bowl topped with a puff pastry.  A very classic French preparation, and I would definitely order this dish again.


Keith also wanted to order another of his favorites, the Chicken Liver Pâté.  Served with caramelized onions and toasted country bread, this decadent spread was full of intense flavor and a pretty generous portion - perfect for sharing.  It was not as smooth as the version we had at Bouchon, but it hit the spot just as well.


The entree special that I ordered was the Bacon Wrapped Monkfish with creamy leeks, wild mushrooms, and a red wine reduction.  The fish was so meaty and tender at the same time, and I just loved the sweet and tangy combination of the leeks with sweet red wine reduction.  This dish was phenomenal and satisfied my stomach on this cold night.  This dish will also be featured on their New Year's Eve menu, and I highly recommend it.  In fact, I hope they add it to the regular dinner menu as a great fish option for non-steak eaters.


Instead of regular steak frites, Keith ordered the 8 oz. Filet Mignon Au Poivre served with fries.  While the steak was cooked perfectly, he was expecting it to be cooked in the pepper sauce to fully impart that flavor.  Instead, the pepper sauce was served on the side. Nevertheless, the fries were crispy and he enjoyed his entree overall.


Lastly, for dessert we shared the Chantilly aux Trois Chocolates made with layers of dark, milk, and white chocolates and whipped cream, then topped with a brownie and chocolate crumbs.  This dessert was so smooth, silky, and had a nice thick consistency.  I am not a huge fan of white chocolate, but the sweetness was tamed by the whipped cream.  The brownie square looked small at first, but ended up being the perfect amount to complement the chocolate cream.  We really loved this dessert and basically licked the inside of the bowl.  Our server noticed, and commented that it was one of his favorite desserts as well.

All in all, we had a great meal at Béarnaise.  I was pleasantly pleased since I was not sure what to expect, knowing Chef Spike's other restaurants are more fast-casual.  The French fare was on point and presented in a more casual atmosphere.  I did not feel the bustling bistro vibe as much upstairs, perhaps some music or more patrons would have helped with the ambience, but we still had a great night out.  I would certainly return to Béarnaise quite often, even more so to get the mussels that I skipped.

Total Rating: 4.23
Food: 4.5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Escargot
sauteed in garlic, parsley and pernod butter

Chicken Liver Pâté
caramelized onions and toasted country bread

Bacon Wrapped Monkfish
creamy leeks, wild mushrooms, red wine reduction

Chantilly aux Trois Chocolates
layers of dark, milk, and white chocolate, whipped cream, brownie, and chocolate crumbs

Plus Keith ate:
Filet Mignon Au Poivre
served with fries

Bearnaise on Urbanspoon

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