Dejeuner avec the Attorney Who Cannot Raise An Eyebrow

Dishes 28, 29, 20, and 31: The cassoulette of snails, galette de crabe, french fries, and dessert cart at Le Bec-Fin (first three dishes from Le Bar Lyonnais menu, available in the dining room at lunch on Fridays), 15th and Walnut,

Thank you, Grace Kelly, for lunch. I will return to writing on Monday when I have finished digesting.

The attorney for whom I interned this summer would like to pass on the following message: the lawyer previously referenced in this blog, who raised her eyebrow when I said I had been having fun reading leases, was clearly a separate woman, because she is unable to raise just one eyebrow at a time.

That said, the attorney who can only raise both eyebrows at the same time, who I will call Grace Kelly to protect her identity, was so kind as to take me to Le Bec-Fin for lunch today, to further my gastronomic endeavors. She invited her friend, another attorney we will call Mrs. M., and Colleen to join us. The vibe was easy from the very start, and by dessert—Grace demanded it—we were shoveling spoonfuls of featherweight soufflé and dreamy lime custard onto each others plates.

The mission of the day: cassolette of snails, gallette de crabe (crab cake), and French fries; Colleen assumed the role of co-undertaker. Grace and Mrs. M granted themselves exceptions, and chose the burger.

Everything at Le Bec-Fin is perfect, from the smoky mirrors on the walls that let staff and customers alike spy on one another, to the carpet that mutes conversation to one table, to the forks, spoons, spade-like knives and other silver contraptions that cut, guard, reveal, and otherwise interact with the food. Little silver domes to hide the butter, tiny pincers for sugar cubes, strangely shaped utensils designed for crab cake—Le Bec-Fin utilizes only utensils that specialize in one purpose: promoting the greater enjoyment of perfect dishes. Or perhaps the owner holds stock in a silversmith.

The escargots arrived in –what else—a minute silver pot designed for holding escargots in garlicky butter. There are angels working in the kitchen. You feel the garlic more than taste it, and it’s very strong but does not overpower the gentle complexion of the snail; in perfect balance, you taste, smell, and feel the dish. It’s so perfect.

The gallette de crabe is equally wonderful; it has large pieces of meat held together by the thinnest of creamy stoneground mustard, allowing the crab flavor to sing while the chorus provides backup. Serving it with tomato was an excellent choice, the clean, fresh, mild taste contrasts with the creamy sauce and refreshes the palate. And the French fries. Were perfect. It’s all about texture, as Grace said. The fries are shoestring, relatively short, and crunchy, but not too crunchy. Finding the stuck-together fry bundles became an ongoing game for our party.

Dessert. Oh. My. God. (Sorry, Jeffers, I will go back with you.) Grace had the Wendy, a chocolate based confection, Colleen chose the frozen Grand Marnier soufflé, I had the Mathilde, a dream of lime mousse, raspberry gelee, and vanilla macaroon sponge, and Mrs. M picked the Costa Rica, made with Baileys, praline, and coffee marscapone, like a tiny chocolate tiramisu imagination. I will write another entry on the desserts in the future, for now, just close your eyes and think of all the most exquisite sensations you have ever experienced. It was like that. Everything, was like that. Thanks to Grace, and Mrs. M, from me and Colleen.


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