Friday, January 21, 2011


Continuing our Restuarant Week food adventures...Last night we went to Bastille, which is located on Royal Street in Alexandria, a few blocks from the main strip of Old Town Alexandria.  A little off the beaten path and next to a few industrial factories and railroad tracks, the building, from the outside, seems a little too low key for such fine French cuisine.  But when you step inside, the low-keyness gives way to a homey warmth and intimate coziness.

The restaurant is fairly small, seating maybe 20-30 tables at most. And it has a traditional old French feel with a modern twist.  And the food does the same thing. I must note, that this restaurant supports local organic sustainable farming! Congrats to them!

For the first course, we chose the Bastille Duck Charcuterie.  It had duck prepared 3 ways...prosciutto style, rillettes (which was almost like a soft sausage without a casing), and duck confit served with a fruit mustarda sauce.  The proscuitto of course was sliced very thin and was juicy and salty.  A perfect combination with the sauce which had a spicy tang to it.  The rilletes was soft and smokey, very delicious. And the duck confit...for those who may not know, confit is where you fry something in its own fat which gives it extra fatty was crispy on the outside like a fantastic home-fried chicken and the duck on the inside was fatty and moist and delectable. (I apologize, some of these pictures aren't the greatest. It was a little dark in there and with such an intimate atmosphere, I didn't feel it was appropriate to use a flash every time we got served a dish.)
Left: duck confit; Middle: prosciutto with sauce and greens on top; Right: baguette slice and rillettes

The other first course dish we chose was the Country Pate with a lentil salad.  Neither one of us had ever had pate so we figured we'd give it a try.  It looked like a rectangular patty of uncooked sausage. That may sound a little unappetizing but trust me, it wasn't.  Again, similar to the rillettes, it had a soft smokey flavor like a savory sausage.  The lentil salad was light and a bit vinagery with a patch of some kind of leafy salad bits on top.  And it was served with a dollop of some kind of mustard seed sauce which was tart and tangy.
Lentil salad (left); Country Pate (right); middle is sauce and a baguette slice

Then came the entree course.  I chose the pan-roasted Lamb Strip Loin with a fresh olive harissa and winter vegetables with Merguez tajine.  Ok, a lot of words, I didn't understand and maybe you don't either so heres a quick explanation.  Olive harissa is sort of like an olive salsa, a mixture of olives, capers, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, maybe sherry vinegar and sometimes other spices.  It definitely has a very olivey taste which I really like.  Merguez is apparently an African spicy lamb sausage and Tajine is a Moroccan dish traditionally cooked in a heavy clay pot with meat and vegetables with numerous spices such as tumeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, ginger. So the vegetables had a sweet spicy flavor with a few bits of meat, very softly cooked.  The lamb itself, the main part of the dish, needs no explanation.  Just a word....yummy.  Ooh, I almost forgot, the veggies were topped with pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds, a nice little pop!
Lamb Strip Loin and winter vegetables

The other entree dish my hubby picked was the grilled Flat-iron Steak topped with a shallot cabernet sauceand served with pommes frites (or French fries to the layman).  The steak was cooked perfectly, juicy and flavorful. Incidently they automatically cook it medium rare unless you specify otherwise, which was perfect for us.  And the sauce...omg, the sauce was amazing.  I could just eat the sauce with a spoon!
Flat-iron Steak with cabernet sauce and French fries

There was an optional cheese course we could've added after the entree but we knew we'd be too full for dessert if we did that.  Too bad cuz I'm a total cheese lover! But that just means we'll have to go back another time! :)

Dessert course...I chose the Pumpkin Creme Brulee with apple compote, sage, and bacon.  Now this is what the menu said, but I'm just now finding out that I don't think thats entirely what I got. :(   The pumpkin brulee itself was awesome.  Sweet pumpkin creaminess topped with the burnt crispy sugar.  Perfection.  However, I didn't get any apple compote and the sage and bacon flavors were a little absent.  So that's a little disappointing. However, that does not take away from the yumminess of the dish I received. And it was served with a cute mini biscotti that tasted of hazelnut, perhaps?
Pumpkin Brulee

Hubby's dessert was the Apple Tartin with orange armagnac sabayon.  Ooh, sounds so fancy! The orange stuff was amazing.  Armagnac is a distinctive kind of brandy and the sabayon part is like a custard made with the armagnac.  Apple Tartin is like an upside-down mini apple pie but so much better, especially combined with the orange liquer and creaminess of the sabayon.  Beautiful and delectable!
Apple Tartin

A sweet and perfect ending to a wonderful meal!

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