A Taste of France in Birmingham!
Posted by bhamfoodscoop on February 28, 2011
There are not too many French restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama, but tonight a group of 13 friends and I were fortunate enough to eat at one of them, Cafe de Paris. The restaurant is located in the Lakeview District, near St. Vincents Hospital.
Cafe de Paris is a quaint and quiet restaurant that is the brainchild of two local French chefs. Their goal is to make us, Southerners, aware of the exquisite flavors of French cuisine. Upon entering the restaurant, I felt like I was in good hands with our two waiters and the host; they answered our every whim and they all worked well together. The staff embraces a typical European attitude, which is to not rush customers in any way. This means the food was brought out at a leisurely pace and the staff made sure that we savored every moment of our visit. For example, between each course we waited for approximately 30-45 minutes for the next one. We definitely weren’t rushed by any means!
However, while we waited for our food the waiters kept bringing us baskets of homemade bread chips. The bread chips were small pieces of bread that were slightly crunchy but still very soft; the bread had somewhat of a sweet taste. The bread was served warm and we spread butter on top of each piece, for an extra flavor. I couldn’t get enough of this bread, it was excellent!
Furthermore, our group ordered from a special menu, that consisted of the following:
Tomato Salad with chopped cherry tomatoes, a spring lettuce mix, and a lite vinaigrette. The person who had this dish says that it was ok, but she wasn’t a fan of the vinaigrette.
French Onion Soup with a french onion broth, chopped onions, topped off with a piece of toasted bread (same bread as I mentioned above) and shredded cheddar melted cheese. Many people, including myself, ordered this dish and it received rave reviews. I was very pleased with the taste because I’m normally not a fan of French Onion Soup, but I really enjoyed this version.
The Shrimp Cocktail wasn’t on our special menu. It consisted of a nice silver bowl of salad(lettuce, tomato, avocado) and it had five medium sized steamed shrimp on the rim of the bowl. This dish was served with a special dipping sauce for the shrimp and I guess you could also use it as a salad dressing. Those who sampled this dish all agreed that the sauce had a very familiar taste. Furthermore, the person that ordered this appetizer wasn’t too pleased with the taste of the shrimp or the special dressing.
Stuffed Grape Leaves consisted of cooked grape leaves stuffed with tuna fish salad, and tomatoes. The grape leaves were topped off with caramelized onions. Not many people liked the taste of this dish, but I must say that I really enjoyed it.
Chicken Salad Twist consisted of a pesto grilled chicken salad on top of a ritz cracker. This appetizer was a hit that everyone loved.
Grilled Chateau Tender Beef consisted of medium strips of grilled steak, roasted potatoes, steamed cabbage, grilled onions, and a special gravy. Everyone who ordered this dish, only had positive things to say about it. The steak was tender and seasoned well.
Crusted Tilapia consisted of a large piece of pan seared tilapia encrusted in bread crumbs (some people say they didn’t get enough fish), roasted potatoes, steamed cabbage, chopped tomatoes, grilled onions, and a special white sauce. I ordered this dish, and I must say that I’m very particular about any fish that I order, and this fish had a few bones in it. Personally, I can’t stand fish with bones because I’m constantly trying not to swallow one. Despite the bones being in the fish, the fish had a good taste and everything else was good. Everyone who ordered this felt the same way, especially about the few bones in the fish.
Pan Seared Salmon consisted of medium sized pieces of seared salmon, roasted potatoes, steamed cabbage, tomatoes, and a special sauce. Everyone who had this dish seemed to have been satisfied.
Bread Pudding consisted of homemade bread pudding with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, and chocolate & caramel swirls. I hate to say that none of us liked this dish, each person had their reasons, but my reasons were that it was hard, it didn’t have a good taste, and it wasn’t warm enough for my standards. Only one person ate it all, and that’s because he doesn’t like to waist food. In order to make up for this, our waiter, brought out another dessert for us to share. It was the Chocolate Truffle Cake and we all loved it! It was served hot and consisted of a chocolate cake filled with rich melting chocolate and topped off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Each person was able to get one bite of this dessert. I would definitely order this again!
Poached Pear in a Red Wine consisted of a pear poached in red wine, topped off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzles of chocolate. Only one person ordered this dish because we all thought that the bread pudding was going to be amazing. The recipient of this dessert definitely enjoyed it, I sampled it, and I must say that it was rather tasty. I would also order this again.
Our visit to Cafe de Paris was filled with exciting new dishes and we enjoyed trying each one. Some of the food tasted wonderful and some of the food was not as good. It all boils down to personal taste! But I will say that the chefs at Cafe de Paris are passionate about making good food and they are willing to accommodate guests in any way that they can.
I really appreciated the wonderful customer service, and a highlight of the night was Serge (one of the chefs and owners of the restaurant) coming to visit our table after we ate, and he thanked us for visiting the restaurant in French, and then he translated what he said in English. The staff treated us like royalty and I had an exciting Parisian experience!