I spend quite a bit of time in France; sometimes for work and sometimes for pleasure, but always for food. Dessert is normally my least favourite course, I would always rather have something savoury than something sweet. However, our French cousins have absolutely nailed dessert with café gourmande. With what? For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, it is basically an espresso shot surrounded by anything between three and six mini-desserts.
On a trip to France last week I had three different versions of this dessert. One at my hotel (Pradotel in Crolles), one at a restaurant in Grenoble (Les Archers) and one in a Buffalo Grill on the way back to the airport. The first two were very nice, with a tasty and varied repertoire of little desserts. But here comes the shocking bit…
The café gourmande in Buffalo Grill was the best. WTF? Buffalo Grill is a ubiquitous roadside restaurant in France, an American-style steakhouse with (at best) an average reputation. It has also attracted a fair degree of controversy over BSE a while back, and more recently over employment of illegal immigrants. Traditionally it has been somewhere I have avoided, but out of convenience visited one last week. I had beef carpaccio, which was very nice; to follow I had the café gourmande. It consisted of five separate elements : crème brulee, some fresh fruit, a cream-filled choux bun with chocolate sauce, cheesecake and a chocolate brownie with crème Anglaise. All were great, and better than the other two I had. A pleasant surprise, especially given the price.
I can recommend re-appraising your roadside stops when travelling through France, was really impressed with my excellent lunch (and especially dessert) at Buffalo Grill. I’ve shocked myself, and I know that my regular French readers will disagree!