Barbette: Less salt, s'il vous plaŒt (Steve's take)

By Steve Sedlak

Entering Barbette is like walking into a scene from “Ratatouille.” I say this partially because I have never been to France and my knowledge of French dining establishments is limited to this Pixar film and the work of some obscure French New Wave filmmakers. But I mention the ratty culinary tale mostly because of what it shares with Barbette’s cozy and fun atmosphere. This is the type of place you would want to bring a first date to. Barbette’s combination of French café chic and the high-culture class inherent to all things French is sure to make a good impression.

My platonic date, Amy Ledig, and I took in a pleasant lunch at Barbette this past Saturday after seeing a movie at the Uptown. Don’t be distracted by Bruegger’s Bagels-Barbette is your destination on Lake Street. While I have to confess that the first time I visited Barbette I walked in and – after making eye contact with the waitress – decided that I’d rather have a bagel, you should control your bagel lust and take the plunge. Behind the building’s charming Parisian facade is an equally charming interior. A huge picture window faces out onto Lake Street behind an awesome bar table that I cannot possibly explain in words. It’s like the sidewalk around a suburban cul-de-sac turned into a table. That’s an approximation, but it’s close enough.

Speaking of bars and sitting at tables, I started the meal with a delicious and tall glass of Kronenbourg beer. Kronenbourg is a French beer and hard to get in the United States, so having it freshly tapped was a special treat. Our helpful but extremely soft-spoken waitress even let me try some of her favorite beers on tap!

We then moved on to an appetizer of pommes frites, also known as French fries, or Freedom fries in the early 21st century lexicon of our youth. They were delicious and perfectly crisped, but a little too salty. In fact they were so salty that I could hardly taste anything I consumed thereafter.

For the main course I ordered a croque monsieur, a type of cheese sandwich peculiar to France. It’s basically a Swiss cheese sandwich with ham. But it’s The Croque Monsieur and seems five times more sophisticated when written on a menu at a chic restaurant.

Still unable to taste much of anything but sensing that Amy and I might be onto something good, I ordered a slice of carrot cake with cream cheese icing. The cake was delicious, but ambiguously so due to the salty carpet-bombing of my tongue by the pommes frites. Dastardly delicious pommes frites.!

Overall, I give Barbette a thumbs up. The only real downer is the price. Lunch for one was a whopping $25. But if you’re only looking for an entrée they average around $7 American. I am also told that the espresso chocolate fondue for two is a special treat for those who can afford it.