Tag Archives: l’assiette

L’Assiette – post #2

Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.
~ Walt Kelly

L’Assiette is not a place you are likely to just visit once. Oh, no. I don’t know what it is – there must have been a secret spell tucked into the heart of the croque madame I had when I first visited this place – I’ve now been there for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between. Not all the time, but still. That’s a lot of meals to eat in one place in just two months.

I had dinner there for the first time last night. My friends Matt and John came to visit from Wellington, and I thought they might enjoy it…

We got a bottle of 2009 Domaine Lafond Côtes du Rhône Roc-Epine for the table (lovely red, like a silk dress). John ordered their scotch fillet served with a bourguignon garnish and roasted potatoes; Matt opted for the fish; I was very close to ordering the duck but decided to pick the fish in the end because, well, if I am to ever like cooked salmon or polenta, I felt L’Assiette would be the place to change my heart.

They did.

The fish made me want to kiss someone.

I’m not sure why I am describing it that way, but it was honestly the first thought that entered my brain (I hasten to add that I did not give the boys seated across from me this honour). Last night’s poisson du jour was a sublime piece of salmon cooked so beautifully I even ate the skin (usually a no-go zone for me). The sauce did what every sauce should do – it made the star (the salmon) shine. Also, the texture was amazing – so light that each time I placed a bit of it in my mouth I felt like I was eating a savoury cloud.

The skins on the oven-roasted cherry tomatoes on the side were just getting ready to burst; the tomatoes collapsed readily in my mouth.

I looked at the polenta on my plate, hesitating slightly.

I’ve tried polenta fries, polenta cakes – and, mostly, it’s been sort of disappointing. Reminiscent of rice or cous cous in a jelly mold.

Last night, I was so sad when I got to the last bite of the polenta! If you want to make someone love polenta, send them to L’Assiette. And have them eat it with their salmon.

We weren’t given a long time to mourn the completion of dinner – the dessert menu made its way to our table, and the well-lit cabinet in the background perked up as we looked towards its offerings. The boys ordered a mille-feuille and a creme brulee respectively; I opted for a coffee éclair. I was given a fork and knife to eat this – it felt like an occasion. This is one of the many little things that cause me to love this place; no matter what you order – a macaron or a main – they are designed to please, and served with thought and care.

L’Assiette – 9 Britomart Place, Auckland – Phone: 09 309 0961

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L’Assiette

Être comme un coq en pâte (being like a rooster in dough – it means feeling cosy and pampered, being in a state of absolute contentment, with one’s every need catered to).
~ French idiom (see Clotilde’s post here)

When people say the French are charming, they aren’t exaggerating. I may, like the most adamant of the anti-French, associate them with the quality of arrogance, or French food with wide hips (never mind what Mireille Guiliano says), or parts of Paris with depressing and dirty streets; but when it comes down to it – I often say oui before non.

Can’t help it.

Some of the richest moments I have experienced would not have been possible without the French. I can testify to the lyrical beauty of their language; the charm of their men (okay, maybe just one, once upon a time); oh, and everything they say about their pastries (when you find a good place) is true.

See here a humble-looking slice of tarte aux pommes? I bought this in a tiny boulangerie-pâtisserie in Paris when I was there with Nish in December… the lady squinted at me, but then burst into a beam when I muttered some form of an order – I think I said “Je voudrais une tarte aux pommes, s’il vous plaît” (some day I will learn how to speak French) and I know it’s just a tart – but this is one of the fondest memories I hold of Paris. Magic on a paper plate.

I probably love tarte aux pommes in Paris as much as some women love the idea of falling in love in Paris.

So anyway, where was I? See, I’m losing myself again. Oh, right. L’Assiette. I was going to blog about L’Assiette. Yesterday, the sky sighed with grey and pregnant clouds so Tracey and I ducked into L’Assiette for brunch. What a good place to hide :-)

Located on Britomart Place, this whimsical little cafe boasts a fun and simple menu covering the essentials like crêpes, terrine, a hearty breakfast, and croque monsieur – along with an attractive selection of cabinet nibbles. I was glad the menu wasn’t too long, because it would have been impossible to decide what to order. It all sounded delicious!

In the end, Tracey and I both opted for croque madame, and cups of coffee (Tracey – mocha, me – long black). Coffee arrived, strong and robust, with a Hershey’s kiss on the side… which made me like them even more (such a nice touch when coffee comes with a little treat on the side!) – and the croque madame was just what I hoped it would be. Observers might have called my brunch a perfect ham and cheese grilled sandwich, crowned with mornay sauce, a fried egg and plated alongside crisp balsamic-kissed lettuce… but I’d say that croque madame, well done, is not quite plain ol’ ham and cheese toast. It’s comfort, comfort, comfort, hugging you tight.

We ended our meal with a sweet macaron each before it was time to leave and run errands…

And now I know that while my next trip to France is probably many months away, I can pop into L’Assiette for a dollop of French sunshine whenever. Or rather, whenever I can find a seat – it’s been full the last few times I walked past!

L’Assiette – 9 Britomart Place, Auckland – Phone: 09 309 0961