Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Eiffel Tower Cafe
Yesterday I ate blood sausage.
Okay it wasn't blood sausage, but it looked like blood sausage, or what I imagine blood sausage would look like. I was at The Eiffel Tower Cafe in Leesburg, VA. I had been wanting to stop there simply for the name. A good name, like a good book title will get me everytime. I asked a local what she thought of the Eiffel Tower Cafe and her face lit up as she oozed compliments. It was a done deal. The cafe also boasted a quaint side patio with twinkly lights, (favorite, favorite, favorite) an abundance of plants and umbrella'd patio tables with flower-filled glass vases. It was warm enough outside for me to feel flushed but there was a breeze and the patio was shaded, so it seemed as if I could close my eyes and imagine I was actually in France.
I perused the menu outside and saw the prices were a little on the steep end for my wallet, the $9-$17 range for the lunch menu, but everything was written in a fancy twirly script and sounded trés French indeed. I walked inside to investigate further. A small bespectacled woman with sprouting honey colored hair greeted me immediately and informed me that the kitchen closes for lunch at 2:30. It was two so I hesitated but she waved her hand insisting I had time. As I was still unsure I asked to see the menu again. I spotted a slew of awards on the restaurant by newspapers and magazines hanging to my left. That combined with the local's fervent recommendation of the place sealed the deal and I asked for a table on the patio.
I felt I owed it to myself to go whole hog and get something particularly Frenchy. I ordered the Merquez Sausage. I of course butchered the name while ordering as I knew I would. If my sister Kia were with me she could've ordered it right, as she is a French snob. The server, the same small woman took my order, then brought me a bread basket and glass of water, saying bon appétit very convincingly. This is why I don't say it at the French-American restaurant I work at, because it will just sound false and contrived. I am not French. If I were to say bon appétit after placing food in front of someone I would feel somewhat inclined to dip into a graceful bow, and then roll my hand out, then saying eat, eat, bellissimo! buéno sera! and start kissing my fingertips. See, now I think I am mixing French with Italian and Spanish. I would be a disgrace to France. Hence why I don't say bon appétit at my restaurant, I simply say enjoy, then smile and walk away.
I am trying a gluten-free lifestyle right now, but I was in faux France for the afternoon and speaking of being a disgrace to France, not eating a warm baguette when in front of you after hearing bon appétit seems the epitome of disgrace and disrespect. So I dug in, happily munching, watching the twinkly lights, feeling the breeze and that contentment I am always yearning for. Ah, bread, you make everything right.
Then my sausage arrived. My waitress again said bon appétit, smiled and walked away. There were three sausages on my plate, long and slender, sitting in a brown sauce, accompanied by a fresh green salad and french fries. I took a bite and as soon as I looked closely spotting the red almost fleshy looking tightness of the sausage wedged into its casing, the words blood sausage kept flooding my brain. Those words truly do not belong together.
The sausage was... interesting. Not bad. Just unlike any sausage I had tasted before. The sauce was delicious as were the salad and fries, but I realized maybe my palate wasn't quite extensive enough yet for authentic French sausage. I ate one and a half sausages to be fair and open-minded.
I am a voyeur of fine cuisine and most certainly won't write off French fare, but maybe anything in the sausage or would-be blood sausage family is not for me. However, I will say this. I adored this little French Cafe. After leaving my money for the check on the table, I got up, took one more look around the patio and stepped under the arch toward the street. My waitress opened the door to the restaurant beaming and waving, goodbye mademoiselle!
The $17 for lunch was entirely worth it just to be called mademoiselle. And for a little piece of France, peace of mind and the joy of trying something new. Although next time, I am getting the smoked salmon and capers.
I also found some wonderful information on the website about Madeleine, who I suspect was my waitress and how the restaurant is said to be haunted by a civil war soldier. If I wasn't already going to go back for the darling French ambiance and beautiful service, I would be back for this little tidbit.