Last night, Sandi and I ate at a small French restaurant in Cave Creek called Le Sans-Souci. The restaurant was cute and the ambience was well-crafted. Our waiter spoke well-accented French and I, a marginal French speaker, believed him to be of French origin—hopefully not Québécois. After perusing the menu and considering the frog’s legs, we opted to have the petit filet mignon dinners as a sort of test of the restaurant’s mettle. We’ve had filet mignon at many restaurants and it’s a pretty good gauge of quality.
The dinners are served in courses at prix fixe, so we started out with the soup. Sandi had clam chowder and I had the Vichyssoise. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the chilled potato and leek soup, which I had previously had at a long-gone French buffet downtown and on our cruise to Mexico. Next were the salads: the greens were fresh and the dressings homemade.
The entrées were plated quite elegantly. The filets mignons had melted butter on the top with steamed asparagus, steamed cauliflower, and scallopped potatoes on the side. The chef steamed the vegetables exquisitely, rendering them firm enough for dipping in the Béarnaise sauce—which was like a lemony Hollandaise—but supple enough for crushing against the palette. The potatoes had an excellent combination of seasoning that made it delicious beyond expectations. Finally, the filets (I can pluralize it because I finished off Sandi’s portion) were tender and juicy. There was nothing particularly exceptional about them, but they were of a quality consonant with the filet’s cachet and any other filet I’ve experienced.
The final course was, of course, the dessert. A tray was rolled over with the available desserts. It was a veritable smorgasbord of glutenous delights. Sandi opted for the cheesecake and I inquired about flour-free items. The attentive and helpful garçon pondered the question and came back with something other than vanilla ice cream: the crème caramel. Joy! The caramel sauce was crisp and the flan was spongy. I quickly scarfed it down and got a rumbling in my stomach—an indication of gluten intake.
Reviewing the meal in my head, I narrowed the possibilities down to the Béarnaise sauce. Why didn’t I remember the usefulness of flour as a thickener for sauces! Cursing my oversight, I figured that I might as well pile on the abdominal distress by sampling Sandi’s cheesecake, which looked heavenly. I scooped up a good piece of it and mashed the most delicious cheesecake I have ever had between my teeth. An overflow of sensations swept through my taste buds from this homemade delectation. I suffered later for the extra gluten, but it was worth it. Oh was it worth it!
So, Le Sans-Souci definitely merits a return visit. It was a little pricey (meal cost with generous tip: $72), but the meal was memorable and exquisitely prepared.
[UPDATE (10/2/04): We went there a second time tonight and my waiter suggested that the crème caramel had a smidgen of flour in it. I guess that case is solved.]