(photo found here)
Saturday morning, Ted and I were downstairs, looking at the newspaper and wondering what the hell is going on in the world, when we received a phone call from our friend Marilee, with whom I have been friends since our days in graduate school together, many years ago. She was in our little town on the wrong side of the tunnel, and had unexpectedly been released from her duties of the day. Would we like to go for coffee or breakfast, she asked. Indeed, we would!
We considered IHOP, but decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and try the Michelin recommended Artisan Bistro, which I hadn’t even heard of until last week when I was looking online for a place to pick up a quick meal to eat at Maya’s swim meet. That evening I picked up cheese and crackers at the grocery store, but I remembered how wonderful Artisan Bistro looked. I’m glad I had found it, because this appears to be a great find. Non-chain type restaurants with truly good food aren’t that easy to come by on our side of the tunnel, so whenever we find one, we’re thrilled.
We arrived just after opening, and chose to sit outside in their garden, as it was a lovely sunny morning with a light breeze. Their indoor space looked welcoming as well. We were greeted with hot sourdough bread and house made butter. Marilee’s coffee came to the table in a French Press, and Ted’s tea came in a small pot. Someone suggested a Bloody Mary, and my ears perked right up. The thing with Bloody Marys is that they are so often dreadful. Bloody Mary mix is a disappointment, and many places make the drink either too spicy or too mild. I thought that probably a restaurant with a full bar and house made butter could probably be trusted, so I went for it. 10:30 is a little early for vodka, so I had a virgin Bloody Mary, and it did not disappoint. Delicious, clearly hand mixed, spicy enough, but not so that I couldn’t enjoy it.
For our meal, Marilee ordered the California Benedict, complete with eggs, crab, and béarnaise sauce, though she kindly ordered her avocado on the side, so I could put it on my eggs. She said the crab was fresh and delicious, though her eggs were a bit more runny than she would have liked (she likes them barely soft, not runny, but not hard…perhaps difficult to manage).
Ted had the Kansas City Benedict, with poached eggs, grilled N.Y. steak, spinach, and béarnaise sauce. He said it was delicious as well. He was craving red meat, and the fish tacos I made for dinner the night before really weren’t cutting it for him. The Benedict did the job.
I ordered the French Scramble, which consisted of eggs, Jambon de Paris, baby wild arugula, and Gruyere cheese. Most of the scrambles and omelets that I find in restaurants are huge and strongly flavored. This scramble was delicate and subtle. The eggs were not overcooked, the ham and cheese were both mild, and the arugula provided the perfect peppery bite. The house potatoes that accompanied all of our meals were delicious, crispy on the outside, and mellow and fluffy on the inside.
The service was attentive and unassuming. The food was delicious, and the atmosphere was lovely. My second Bloody Mary was just as delicious as the first. The only complaints that I had were small. We would have preferred a butter knife to spread our house made butter on our delicious sourdough bread, rather than having to use our dinner knives. When Ted and I were finished with our meal, our plates were cleared, though Marilee was still eating. That’s not a big deal, and I suspect some people find it disconcerting to have the dishes remain on the table after they’ve finished eating. But I find that it can make the person who is still eating feel like they have to rush. Kind of like when they drop off the bill while you’re still eating (more an IHOP situation), which happily did not happen here.
Overall, the delicious meals were so satisfying, I’m sure we’ll be back. Looking at the pictures on the website, I’m looking very forward to having some rack of lamb or heirloom tomato salad, or perhaps even…both. Yum.