520 Rush

It’s that time.  Holiday Dinner Time.  In years gone past it’s always been a steak-apalooza in Bellevue – Daniel’s, Ruths Chris or John Howie Steak.  Last year, the 2010 Holiday Dinner reinvented itself as the 2011 Holiday Brunch.  This year I got my act together & booked a table not at a steak house & not in Bellevue, not in the wrong year & not over brunch.  Yay!  Incidentally, I am also very excited to tell you that I have {already} got my Holiday Cards out.  Before Christmas!  In 2011!!  Not in the middle of January!!!  Miracles abound in the life of Carrie Brown.

I love to go *over the bridge* for dinner, if only so that I can get a “520 Rush” as we zoom past all the poor souls with less than 3 peeps in their car.  So Polly, Becky & I headed west and made it from Redmond to Madison Valley in under 20 minutes, even in the midst of the rush hours.  I say “hours” because in Seattle it starts at 1:30 pm & ends at 7.  If you’re lucky.  HOV lanes rock when you actually qualify as an HOV.

Destination: Voila!  A cute little French Bistrot opposite Luc – that very nice French American eatery where I’ve enjoyed a couple of lovely Sunday brunches.  I have tried in vain to eat at Voila!, but I invariably show up at the wrong time – when the doors are locked & the lights are out.  This time I booked a table.  Gosh, is there no end to my organizational prowess this December??

Voila!  is warm & dark & classy.  All decked out for the holidays it is a sumptuous, polished space with sparkly lights & red roses on the table.  French bistro meets Pottery Barn.  The perfect place for a romantic dinner date would be at one of Voila’s tall bar tables, cozied in the darker corners.  It almost made me want a date – just for the experience of being wined & dined in such elegant style.  Almost.

We arrived at 5:50 when just 2 tables were being patronized.  Half an hour later there was only room at the bar left.  Clearly a very popular way for locals to spend their Wednesdays.

The menu was perplexing in it’s wide range of choices.  Hoping that our waiter would shed some light on what to order, he instead gave us another bewildering array of dishes to consider.  Moules (mussels), escargot (snails), pate, duck, Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq Au Vin, salmon…I tried desperately not to remember anything he said, since it just made it all the more, well, difficult.  Polly & Becky had similar issues.  Finally we got ourselves sorted out.  Here’s how it went down.

Baguette.  Real butter.  Always a winner.  Plus Polly with her big, beautiful drop of red wine.  Lovely.

Becky’s Moules ($10).  Huge.  Garlicky.  We shared.  All 3 of us.  I love things that come in Mother Nature’s very own containers.  I would have had the escargot (snails), but they were already out of their shells.  Shucks.

Polly knew, while still sat in her office, that there was, if she had *anything* to do with it, going to be a considerable amount of cheese in her meal.  So the cheese plate worked out perfectly ($14).  It may look rather lack-lustre there on the plate – I wish you could have seen Polly’s face while she was eating it all.  There was NOTHING lack-lustre about Polly’s facial expressions.

Chicken Liver Pate ($8).  Surprisingly small, surprisingly lumpy & surprisingly un-liver-y.

Coq au Vin ($18).  Served on tagliatelle, just to make a change.  It smelt amazing.  What didn’t get chowed down went to Becky’s home, in a box.  There was no leaving that plate of deliciousness behind.

Boeuf Bourguignon ($19).  The deep, rich, heady aroma wafted across the table & almost made me want to swim in it.  I suspect it would have been way too thick for that.  Polly only got through half of it, so her man had the other half for lunch the next day.  Some lunch, Jeremy.  Polly was overcome by it’s decadence.  And her need to leave room for dessert.

Ah!  Duck.  With cherries.  And Potatoes au Gratin.  Very ducky…although I didn’t feel there was a lot there for the money.

Profiteroles (cream puffs) filled with praline mocha ice cream (they were out of vanilla – darn!) & smothered in warm chocolate sauce ($9).  When did desserts get so expensive??

Polly’s Chocolat Pot de Creme ($7).  Disappointingly not served in a pot (as they should be), but intensely chocolate-y & incredibly smooth.  Polly swooned.

Tarte au Citron ($7).  The lemon part rocked.  The pastry case, not so much.  Good flavor, way too thick.  So I ate all the lemon & left most of the pastry.

As usual, we had a super fun night of it.  Those girls just make me laugh.  I suspect we may have been a little loud at times, but it was a Holiday Dinner, so that’s allowed, right?  Good times in Madison Valley!  Happy Holidays!

Now, the plan when we started out for dinner was to have two desserts – the one at Voila! & then an after-dinner crepe (why drink when you can eat crepes?) a couple doors down at La Cote.  The crepes at La Cote, if you recall, are my #1 crepes in Seattle, possibly Washington, and it just seemed so entirely wrong to walk right past & not get up to a spot of creperie mischief.  However, once Voila!’s delights had been consumed, my light-weight girlfriends were quite unable to eat another thing.

Well.  Since Wednesday night I have been quite unable to think about much else, other than eating crepes at La Cote, so yesterday I snuck over to avail myself of some pre-Holiday creperie magic.

I love me a taste of France on a Saturday morning.  Any day of the week, really.

 The La Baltique Crepe – smoked salmon, heavy cream  scallions ($13) – was tastebud-blowingly good.  The flavors in the filling were simply incredible.  The crepe was perfect – thin, delicate, beautifully cooked.  I could eat this every day & never get bored.  Probably my favorite crepe I have ever eaten.

Mint Tea ($3.50).  I must have got 9 cups out of that one bag of bright, beautiful mint leaves.

 La Cote Salade - Bibb lettuce, apples, shaved fennel, yummy dressing ($10) - this is my {very} favorite salad.  Ever.  Fresh, crisp, flavorful, refreshing.

There was also a La Citronee crepe ($6).  It was as divine as last time.  As divine as a crepe should be.  You can read about that & see pictures here.

The service was a little mad.  The place was packed & they were run off their feet.  But I didn’t care, since this was just the best way to spend an hour on a Saturday that I can think of right now.

Definitely worth a trip over the bridge for.  520 rush or not. 

Voilà! Bistrot on Urbanspoon La Côte Creperie on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

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