Tuesday, December 10, 2013

going beyond french fries

I consider myself to be relatively open-minded when it comes to trying new foods, but up until recently, if you suggested French food, I would probably wrinkle my nose and ask if we could go somewhere else.

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....


     Glossy Blonde                                                     

22 comments:

  1. we went to one french restaurant in Toronto called Auberge de Pommier and it was pretty shi-shi-poo-poo but the food was DELICIOUS. it was really rich - a bit too rich for my taste - but it tasted really good. they cook a lot with butters and creams which are heavy and after the appetizer, i was full.

    but damn, those pics look so yummy!

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  2. I know what you mean about avoiding the French food. I even went to France and avoided it lol But if someone suggested French desserts I wouldnt hesitate to go! Thanks for the safe French dish suggestion! I've honestly never been to any legit French place because obvs the Madeleine doesn't really count!

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  3. After seeing Julie & Julia, I always was curious about boeuf bourguignon but I'm not typically a stew fan. Probably becausemy dad would just throw random stuff in a pot when I was younger and claim it was stew. *shudder* That dessert looks amazing btw, yum!

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  4. Everything looks excellent, down to the lighting.

    How did I not know you don't like eggs, and how is that possible?

    I love French food, but it's so rich so only every once in a while.

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  5. That fig and prosciutto salad looks amazing!! Glad all the few was good minus one dessert. I think a lot of it is too rich for me but it is so worth learning how to make them.

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  6. YUM! Every single picture looks amazing! It's my goal to cook a soufflé...my mouth is watering!

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  7. That food looks so good!

    I don't think I've ever tried or even thought about trying french food. Sitting her thinking about it I'm not even sure I've ever seen a french restaurant even when I lived in Charlotte.

    I love Groupon, it's so disappointing they don't have it here at the beach.

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  8. I am not a huge egg fan too. Unless they are of the deviled kind! Then yum look out!

    There is a French restaurant around here that gets rave reviews and now I want to try it after reading your post! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Food porn = heaven

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  9. I want to go for the dessert and coffee alone!! That looks amazing!

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  10. I still find myself confused by French food. Like, what is it?? I think of duck too and know nothing else about it. Glad you ventured out and enjoyed it. Since there aren't many restaurants close to you it would have kind of been a bummer if you didn't like it!!!

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  11. what's not to love! Meat... Goooood. Onions... Goooood. Carrots.... Gooood. this makes me happy

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  12. So awesome it's outside of the loop and close to you! I always go for salmon or fish when I don't want meat so I understand that! I've never had a beef dish at a French restaurant, but now I'm willing to try it! My mouth is hungry for all those mushrooms! :)

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  13. This all sounds so good! That fig and prosciutto salad especially!

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  14. That all sounds a bit too adventurous to me. I like Mexican, Italian, and American food! Lol. Glad you had a good time though!

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  15. I don't think I'll be having anything other than French fries or French toast anytime soon. But the dessert does look good, I'll give you that! ;P

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  16. That's my favorite episode of Friends EVER! bahahaha I can just picture him saying that in that episode!

    There is a french restaurant near us that everyone raves about, but I don't think french food has many vegetarian options. The dessert sounds heavenly, however.

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  17. Go You for trying something new! I get stuck in my "comfortable food bubble" way too often!

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  18. I don't think I've ever been to a french restaurant either. The chocolate souffle looks so delish!

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  19. But that Boeuf bourguignon, looks amazing.

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  20. I'm the exact same way about French food (or any other ethnic food I haven't tried before). I would have asked if we could go somewhere else. This gives me hope that if I try something, I just might like it!

    All of the pictures make the food look so good. I'd probably try with the boeuf bourguignon and finish it off with the chocolate souffle. Yum!

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  21. I'm the exact same way about French food (or any other ethnic food I haven't tried before). I would have asked if we could go somewhere else. This gives me hope that if I try something, I just might like it!

    All of the pictures make the food look so good. I'd probably try with the boeuf bourguignon and finish it off with the chocolate souffle. Yum!

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  22. I'm sorry you're not generally a fan of french food, but I love it! It's definitely a favorite of mine, so I'm glad that you reviewed this place for me; I will have to check it out STAT!

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