Cafe Campagne

Written by on February 19, 2011 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Downtown, at the Market

How I heard of this place: The establishment has been on the Dine Around Seattle list since I can remember. It was not until I won a gift card in a Komo TV drawing (along with two tickets for Stars On Ice at the Key Arena, two generous gift cards for the Milagros Spa and a complimentary night in a water-facing suite at Inn at the Market) that I made the effort to sample the French cuisine at this cozy, intimate, bustling restaurant.

Type of cuisine: A French Bistro at its best! “The Café has received rave reviews from its inception.  Named as one of the top ten restaurants in its opening year by the Seattle Times and as one of the best restaurants in America by The Wine Spectator,Café Campagne has received the designation as Seattle’s top French Café/Bistro consistently by Zagat Survey.  Discover Café Campagne for yourself, and fall in love with your own petite slice of France.” The chef, “Born in JamaicaDetermined to work at only the finest restaurant in Seattle, Mr. [Daisley] Gordon found his place alongside then-Chef Tamara Murphy and Sous-Chef Jim Drohman at Campagne in 1995. Both instilled in him a respect for technique and tradition while encouraging Mr. Gordon to discover his own individual style. Asked to describe his idiom, Mr. Gordon responds, “Getting the most flavor out of simple ingredients”. He “continues his development through regular time spent in France and French Kitchens.   He embraces the French obsession with quality of product and the details of service. He is driven to achieve the same excellence in his own kitchen, searching for flavors that are bright and robust while working with the finest local, national and international purveyors.”

Ambiance: I could close my eyes and imagine I was in any café in Paris,” Jeremiah Tower, the renowned chef, is quoted to have said on his first visit to Café Campagne.  “Endearing,” “charming,” “quaint,” “bohemian,” are just a few of the words critics have used to describe Campagne’s younger sibling.  Café Campagne embraces many moods, many tastes, many budgets.” A wonderful combination of muted, yellowed walls, Parisian paintings and photography, intimate seating at small tables, where you can gaze into the eyes of your loved one, over a plate of escargots. The establishment feels somewhat hidden as you make your way down the steep hill just west of 1st Avenue on Pine Street and enter the dimly lit space. Upon entry, diners are greeted by the hosts, invited to await their tables by looking at a menu, propped up underneath a large vase of flowers, and then accompanied through the space, perhaps passing by the bar and seating at the front and into the back room to be seated. Curtains are hung on a rod half-way down the window along the front, looking onto the quaint, cobbled Post Alley.

What I ordered: Celebrating a birthday, I was feeling generous and invited my dining companion to order anything and everything he wanted! We started with two hors d’oeuvres: the first, a tarte flambee ($10), thick, crispy, savory bacon and transluscent onions on a goat fromage blanc tarte; the second, a French staple (and our first time sampling it), escargots de Bourgogne ($10), six Wild Burgundy snails roasted with parsley, garlic and shallot butter. Our salad choices were the haricots verts en salade ($11), green beans marinated with lemon vinaigrette and shallots, topped with more crispy, thick, grilled bacon, and the salade aux betteraves et noisettes ($12), butter lettuce with hazelnut vinaigrette, diced marinated beets, onions, Roquefort cheese and toasted hazelnuts. For les plats principaux, I selected the steak frites ($23), pan-roasted hanger steak with sauteed greens, Roquefort butter and perfect pommes frites. My dining companion chose the truite aux amandes ($19), sauteed, boneless trout with salt-roasted potatoes and a very tart almond, lemon and brown butter pan sauce. Even though we were more than satisfied with our meals, celebrating a birthday meant that we simply had to order a dessert, and the tarte tatin ($9) won the vote: a flaky tarte with caramel sauce, sweetened creme fraiche and a delicate apple chip atop.

What I loved: Of all of the items we ate on this journey through Paris, the pommes frites were my ultimate favorite! Not only were they perfectly browned, crispy on the outside and soft throughout the center, they remained warm until the last bite – and were served with a light garlic aioli. Delicious. The salads were both well-dressed, not overdone, and layered with flavor. The bacon, probably the best I’ve had, yet! The dessert remained full of gooey good taste until it was completely consumed the following evening.

Why I loved it: The intimate and warm setting creates the air of romance, set in a perfectly French atmosphere, the busy-ness of the establishment truly reminiscent of cafes in Paris and the food buttery delicious.

Cost:  Average ($15-$23 per dinner entree)

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