Why? French food often seems pretentious. It involves a lot of eggs (which I mostly hate). There is duck, which I will only eat when I have to (blame my rubber duck collection for this one) and liver (not a fan) rounded out by yummy things like crepes and croissants. But sitting through weird mains with unpronounceable names just to get to something I could get at a bakery without going through a whole meal was not something I was interested in.
Enter La Balance. It's a French restaurant that opened in my suburb, which is a big deal! I am thirty miles west of downtown Houston so having something near me is amazing. And then the place got a great write-up by Houston's only food critic worth listening to. And then it came up on groupon. The stars aligned and plans were made. The more I looked into their menu, the more I wanted to go.
On Friday night, Andrew and I tried it out. Though it was in a strip center, the interior was cute and updated. There was a case of desserts that I made mental note of to grab as birthday surprises or hostess gifts in the future. I had a glass of wine and started with a fig and prosciutto salad; Andrew got the green pea soup. He liked the soup and I loved the salad. I am a huge fan of the salty/sweet combo and I thought it was a generous portion for a starter.
Pretty Lights | Fig and Prosciutto Salad
Going in, Andrew told me I should order boeuf bourguignon. He made it in culinary school and knew I would like it. In the (edited) words of Joey Tribbiani: Meat... Goooood. Onions... Goooood. Carrots.... Gooood. So I was about to, and then he pointed out that we were going to a steak house the next night, I don't like red meat that much, and maybe I should switch it up. So I got the salmon with asparagus and mushroom cream sauce and he got the boeuf bourguignon. Upon tasting his dish, I immediately regretted my decision - mine was good, but his was amazing! It was a cold night and the warm, rich stew was exactly what I didn't realize I wanted. We WILL be going back, even if we just get two boeuf bourguignons to go! The bread served with the meal was also yeasty and amazing and I could have easily had more of that too. It was served so hot it almost burned my fingers in the best way.
Boeuf bourguignon | My salmon with mushrooms | The other dessert
You can't go to a French restaurant without trying the chocolate souffle, so we did. It came with a hazelnut cream sauce and dark chocolate ice cream. I haven't confirmed this, but I think souffle is French for "lava cake" because that is kind of what it is. Not really, but close. It takes lots of time to make and has to rise properly to be fully enjoyed but when it's good, it's amazing. We also got another dessert that I didn't like very much. The texture was weird and the passion fruit sauce on the plate wasn't my favorite. But it looked pretty! The coffee they served was also delicious. Judging a restaurant by the quality of its coffee is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do.
I was too full to fully enjoy this but it was so good.
So basically, I loved this place. We will be going back. And knowing that there is nothing weird about boeuf bourguignon made me more eager to try other French restaurants. When you know there is a "safe" dish on the menu, it's far easier to try new places.
Have you ever tapped into your inner Julia Child and made boeuf bourguignon? If you want to and you need a taste tester, I'll be happy to help you out....