Veal scallops, in the best of taste

One of our guests, heard commenting on tonight’s Julia Project dish, Escalopes de Veau à l’Estragon with Brown Tarragon Sauce: “Oh my, I picked the right dish!” Our presentation included spring peas and was served on the same thin, wide pappardelle pasta that accompanied our Chicken Fricassee of Tuesday night. The sauce for this dish is a bit lighter than that of the previous two entrees we have presented, but no less delicious for that, and redolent with the flavor of tarragon straight from our rooftop garden (each plate was decorated with a tarragon sprig). We hope you had the chance to enjoy; if you did, tell us about it!

Excitement is already building for tomorrow night’s dish, another masterpiece from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1: Foie de Veau Sauté with Sauce Crème a la Moutarde, Calf’s Liver with a Cream and Mustard Sauce. And don’t forget, the movie Julie & Julia opens tomorrow at area theaters. Save your ticket stub; if you make reservations for a party of four or more and show us your stub, you will receive one complimentary dessert per table. And what desserts we have to offer you: sinfully rich and sublime, whether it’s banana cream pie, raspberry-almond-and chocolate torte, carrot cake, peanut butter “s’mores” pie…save room!

We’re making plans now for which Julia Child dishes to feature in next week’s dinner specials. Watch this blog to see what’s coming next! If there’s a dish you’d especially like us to offer, make a request here — you just might see it on a future menu.

What makes a great French dish a great French dish?

How can you make your own attempts at French cooking stand out with that deep, rich flavor that puts it above the rest? Two of the keys are how you treat the vegetables in your dish and how you infuse your sauce with herbs.

Our chef Todd Mueller, for example, who prepared our Chicken Fricassee Tuesday night, took special care with the mushrooms to ensure they tasted as fine as they did. First, they get a treatment with lemon juice to retain their white color; then they receive a bath of flavor from the white wine and chicken stock. Although Julia Child recommends either dry white wine or vermouth, Todd likes to use a combination of both for more richness of flavor; a dry Chardonnay is an especially good complement to the mushrooms.

For our Potage Parmentier, potato-and-leek soup, texture was important. Mashing the potatoes with a hand blender provided a more rustic consistency than would pureeing them in a food processor, leaving small pieces of potato and leek intact for a more interesting feel and taste.

As for flavor infusion, the key to depth of flavor in a slow-cooked dish like our Chicken Fricassee is the bouquet garni: a gathering of herbs, spices and other aromatics tied together into a bundle of cheesecloth. (At Bistro 185, of course, Todd can gather fresh sprigs of thyme and other herbs right from our rooftop garden.) The bouquet garni is submerged in the pot while the dish cooks and removed before serving, by which time it’s permeated the sauce with a tremendous depth of flavor.

Of course, the alternative to cooking these dishes on your own is enjoying them with us. (Then again, we may just serve as your inspiration!) Come by tonight and taste for yourself.

Chicken Fricassee: a rich, flavorful experience

Tonight’s special entree from the Julia Child repertoire, Fricassee de Poulet à L’Ancienne — Chicken Fricassee with Wine-Flavored Cream Sauce, Onions and Mushrooms — is a delight for the senses. Imagine a dish filled with delicious wide pasta ribbons and tender portions of chicken with mushrooms, onions and carrots in a classic rich, creamy wine sauce. To try to describe it in words doesn’t do it justice. As is so often true with French cooking, the sauce, as Cindy, one of our guests, described it, “makes the dish.” You can taste it in every bite of chicken and every noodle, onion and carrot, but the mushrooms seem to really hold the flavor — sheer heaven! The flavor of the white wine really shines through. Requesting bread with this dish is a must; no one wants to miss a drop of the sauce!

One thing Cindy said she really enjoyed was that this isn’t the usual white-meat breast-only chicken dish; it contains whole chicken portions, so moist and delicious they fall right off the bone. Traditional French cuisine at its best!

But if you were unable to join us for this selection, don’t despair. Tomorrow night we’re featuring a popular favorite, Boeuf Bourguingnon, also from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1.

Do you know about our Julia Project special? Parties of four or more will receive one complimentary dessert per table from our nightly selection by showing their server any of the following: a ticket stub from the movie Julie & Julia, which opens Friday; a receipt for purchase of Julie Powell’s book Julie & Julia; or a receipt for the purchase of Julia Child’s memoir with Alex Prud’homme, My Life in France. We think the movie and books will add even more to your enjoyment of our Julia Project — and shine a light on how the project relates to our own passion for great food.

Hope to see you soon!