On dining at La Cigale

Food was a constant topic of conversation in our household.
~ Paul Lynde

Are you a leftovers sort of person? I know people who love the joy of going to bed after a good meal, knowing there is more of the same to come the next morning. I am, however, seldom the person who asks the waiter to pack the rest of my food in a takeaway container. Probably because there is usually no remainder on my plate, save garnishings and bones. At any rate, any food that remains forlorn on my plate is probably food I have not enjoyed, and would therefore not enjoy even with microwave magic applied to it at home. I am also just loathe to consider cold soggy food waiting in the fridge for me to heat up.

I can’t remember the last time I got leftovers at a meal out to be packed.

So… don’t ask me why, but last night, I did it – I guess I just enjoyed dinner and when the waiter came towards us for our dishes, I blurted it out before I could think about where I was. “Would you mind packing these for us to take away?” I mean, I chose an unthinkable (?) place to ask for my food to be packed – it was a French bistro. But… it wasn’t a stiff and formal place, the red wine had me all relaxed – and – if you met waiters as friendly and forgiving as the ones I encountered last night, I am guessing you would forget your manners too :-)

We got a lovely table at the back, airy and quiet and just warm enough – I really loved the atmosphere of this place, it’s the kind of feeling I’d love to have in my own restaurant, if I ever owned one. Rustic and comfortable and roomy and fun – the sort where you can wear a beautiful dress and heels, or jeans, and feel 100% at ease with yourself. The kind where you want to be elegant, but won’t panic if you drop your fork or napkin. The kind where – even with a migraine plaguing your brain, all you want to (and can) do is laugh merrily.

We enjoyed a very delicious dinner. The meal just seemed to go on forever (in a good way). First – starters. The charcuterie platter came, adorned with silky chicken liver, tasty olives, stubby pickled gherkins and all – so yummy with the basket of bread! I frankly had to make myself stop, knowing we had more to eat after! The waiters came at just the right time, when we’d had enough time to taste all this at a leisurely pace… and just when I felt like we’d already had our dinner… there was more!

The mains – beef bourguignon and chicken tarragon, I had ordered two of each – arrived in generous bowls of warm deliciousness. Both beef and chicken were impossibly tender and flavourful; the beef was rich and strong, the chicken creamy and gently sweet with the dreamlike quality of tarragon – something in the sauce rounded it off perfectly, my guess is coconut milk but I can’t be sure. We were pleasantly surprised when a large bowl of fresh salad and an equally substantial bowl of crispy roast potatoes also made their way to our table. All in good time, while our stomachs began to feel rather heavy. Oh, and we got a bottle of Domaine Grand Veneur Côtes du Rhône les Champauvins to share too – this was listed as having “notes of kirsch and dark cherry” – it was a nice complement to the meal, thank you kind Waiter for your recommendation!

There was a bit of a mix-up with dessert at the end, and the yummy prune (I think) dessert which should’ve found its way to another table found us instead, with four sparkling forks to boot – and my brain did not wake up to the fact that it was a mistake until we’d all taken our first sweet bite (and horror and joy at once leaped into my heart). Despite my attempts to protest at the counter, they did not charge me for it.

I intend to visit them again. And not just because of the kindness with dessert.

PS. Re the leftovers. I KNEW it just wouldn’t taste as fantastic – but you know what, after a rather crazy day, this was JUST what I needed. I was so glad to have this waiting patiently for me when I got home tonight! Maybe there’s more to Leftover Logic than I thought.

PPS. Photos are of my leftovers (still looking rather edible, I must say!)

La Cigale – 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland – Phone: 09 366 9361


7 responses to “On dining at La Cigale

  1. love a night off from cooking !

  2. Dear Mel,

    This is a friendly follow-up to our first message to you (May 2010), to warmly invite you again to list your blog on our Expat Women Blog Directory (http://www.expatwomen.com/expatblog/). Blogs like yours are excellent sources of information for relocating expats, so we would love to include it with our other 1,700+ self-listed blogs.

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  3. This looks lovely, if I wasn’t dining at Plum Kitchen tomorrow night when in town this would be my pick! Hope you’re settling into life in Akd :)

  4. It’s funny coz getting stuff in takeaway cartons at the end of a meal is totally a normal part of a chinese meal. Next time you’re at a chinese restaurant watch out for it – we’ll pack EVERYTHING to take home! Waste not want not right? And besides dinner for breakfast = amazing :P

  5. Satch – haha, I’m probably the opposite; I’ve been eating out too much since moving up to Auckland, and I miss cooking more!

    Jessica – thanks, but I don’t think I count as an expat.

    Rebecca – Plum Kitchen sounds like an excellent dining choice too, I wouldn’t worry about missing out :-) There is always next time as well!

    Nessie – haha I know that is quite often the case!

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