Last Friday I had the pleasure of dining in a charming little bistro, Les Fernandises. From the moment we walked in the door, the place felt inviting and homey, and the entire staff were welcoming and friendly. The food was delicious and inexpensive – only 19.50 for a three-course dinner! The only fault this place has (if it can be considered a fault) is that the light was dim, and got dimmer as the night went on. Which is my way of apologizing in advance for the quality of the pictures.
The meal began with an amuse-gueule of croutons(French for crostini) and roasted garlic spread. The salt was unnecessary. If you like roasted garlic, and I do, this was a winner. Simple and enjoyable.
Next came the appetizers. There were three of us dining, but two of us got the mushroom crème brûlée (top photo). There was no question that I was ordering it as soon as I saw it on the menu. I love mushrooms, I love crème brûlée, how could I not love this? And I did love it. The top was crisp and freshly caramelized, as any good crème brûlée should be. The custard was savory and smooth, and had a satisfyingly high ratio of sautéed wild mushrooms baked into it. Delicious.
The terrines maison, or house-made terrines (bottom photo), were also impressive. Three different terrines – one fresh and herbal, one studded with hazelnuts, and one straight-up pâté de campagne- each distinct and well-prepared, were served on a single plate, garnished with cornichons and tomatoes.
For the main course, we each chose something different. I had the thon à la basquaise:
A seared hunk of tuna over a bed of rice with a tomato and pepper sauce. The tuna was a little more cooked than I would have liked, but otherwise the dish was good.
Nick opted for the chorizo pasta. Simple – chorizo and tomatoes with pasta in a creamy sauce – but well executed and quite tasty. He cleaned his plate.
Our friend went with the duck confit with duck-fat potatoes. Again, simple but delectable. I mean, who doesn’t like a good duck-fat roasted potato?
By the time dessert rolled around, the place was too dark for any photography to succeed, but the vibe was convivial and fun. We got two desserts for the three of us to share, the nicely done tiramisu and the surprisingly good pineapple skewers. The tiramisu was just right: light sponge cake with creamy (but not overly so) mascarpone filling. For the skewers, big, juicy chunks of pineapple were grilled (or broiled) to perfection, allowing the sweetness of the fresh pineapple to punctuate its deeply caramelized exterior. A great finish to this delightful Southwestern (French Southwestern, that is) meal.
A note to anyone who ends up dining here: at the end of the meal, they will offer you a tiny glass of sweet liqueur (I think it’s chestnut) as a digestif. They may leave the bottle on the table. They may encourage you to drink it all. Don’t.