After meeting Dr. Will Clower of The French Don’t Diet for a lecture at work on Friday, I decided to give a French restaurant in Pittsburgh a try.
Tonight’s dinner was at Brassiere 33. I have to say that it started out on the wrong foot. Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by a waitress at the bar. After telling her we had reservations, another group in front of us was addressed by who I am assuming was the owner. But actually, he was trying to welcome me and I totally ignored him because I couldn’t hear him over the din of the restaurant. Plus, he was standing closer to the group in front of me. That caused him to turn his nose up, mumble something under his breath, and storm off. Now I am not a rude person, and I guessed he thought I was snubbing him for whatever reason. At the first chance I got, I apologized but I fear the damage was already done.
Thus begun an evening not enjoying the food, but watching this guy run around the cramped restaurant doing everything from greeting people, cleaning tables, serving drinks, and telling people where to stand. He really was something to watch, and he seemed to be everywhere.
Now on to the food… After returning from the restaurant and thinking about the meal, I can’t really say if it was good or bad. I will say it didn’t wow me as some of the other places I have reviewed did. I started with the Lyonnais salad. It was tasty. The croutons, I think, were infused with the bacon fat giving them a fantastic taste. And the bacon itself was very flavorful. Otherwise, the salad was pretty standard.
My main course was Rôti canard au cassis, or Roast Duck with Black Currents. Here I wasn’t as happy as I was with my salad. The duck was way overcooked. In other words, it was completely cooked through while at the same time the skin was not crispy, but rather limp. The potatoes, while cooked well, really lacked seasoning and any flavor. A little salt and maybe some tarragon would have been a nice touch. The tomato “thing” on the dish really wasn’t very favorable either. A baked tomato doesn’t really have any flavor.
Dessert faired a little better. I went with the lemon tart but my first choice was the raspberry tart, which they were all out of. The lemon filling was very tart and “lemony” but the crust itself was very hard and pretty hard to cut into. The coffee, though, actually was very good. It was a French press and very bold and full bodied.
The meal ended pretty much as it began with the owner’s escapades becoming the main focus. I watched as he apparently got a cramp in his leg while he stood in the kitchen. He limped around in pain as he tried to message the Charlie Horse away. I wanted to say “Serves you right for acting the way you did. Maybe next time, you’ll think before you turn you nose up at me just because I can’t hear you.”
All in all, I guess I can say I was not overly impressed with the food. But the service and wine selections were spot on.