Seattle and outdoor dining have a tricky relationship. More specifically, because of the phenomenon of most Seattleites absolutely loosing their sanity when the sun comes out, dining outdoors can be near impossible on the weekends as well as lunch hour downtown on any weekday. However, much to my surprise, I found a table at Le Pichet on a regular old Thursday noon.
I needed a taste of Paris from my summer of 2006. I needed to sip a sparkler, sit in the cool breeze, and butter a crusty baguette. Le Pichet had been on my radar for quite sometime* and since I needed my daily dose of Vitamin D, I sauntered downtown and found Le Pichet.
It was not what I expected...in a really good way. It was not expensive or upscale. It had four sweet outdoor tables on the sidewalk, all of which were free when I chose mine. It was relatively small and unassuming, almost lost to its neighbor, The Virginia Inn. The servers were all adorable, good looking (how faux-french, non?), and friendly.
I saw two euro-hikers enjoying their lunch with a glass of rosé. I noticed a few business casuals on their lunch breaks as well as friends meeting to catch up over coffee and pastries. I noticed two different couples of tourists (always a casualty of dining near Pike Place Market), one of which sat next to me and proceeded to attempt their french with each other.
But that's the thing about Le Pichet, it actually makes you think you need to speak french in order to, well...order. It had me fully convinced, hell, fully transported to Paris...complete with a menu I found somewhat lack luster (I find French lunches less luminsecent than dinners). But this is very much to their credit. After choosing my bubbly, a medium-price Blanquette, I settled on the soup. Potage de topinambours et poireaux, sa tranche de Fourme d’Ambert to be exact. Translation: “Creamy Jerusalem artichoke and leek soup garnished with cow’s milk blue cheese.”
My food came out very fast and was seriously delicious. I was about to leave when my sweet server suggested dessert...and after all, I was there a) to pamper myself and b) to write a review, so I had to try it. At the server's suggestion, I ordered the profiteroles. Voila! Puff pastry filled with ice-cream and covered in chocolate? Mais oui!
I was feeling so good at that point that I spoke to the annoying couple next to me, charmingly mentioning that they should help me finish the desert. They were quite lovely back to me, so I promptly forgave them for their ameri-french and fanny packs.
I then ordered an espresso macchiato and oh dears, this is one point upon which I cannot be amiable. My foam was about 3 inches high and horribly steamed. I forgave the aesthetic blunder and discretely used my wee spoon to remove the unsightly "casper of a friendly milk." But the espresso! Oh the espresso...dears, I hate to say it, but it was simply horrible. Bitter, over-extracted, barely palatable. I even considered using sugar to get it down, but couldn't break apart a sugar cube to get just a little bit. Judging from the name on the demitasse cup, Le Pichet uses Cafe Vita. I have a feeling it was not Cafe Vita's fault. I was not impressed...amaturely prepared espresso in the city of coffee is simple inexcusable.
My only suggestion to the service staff: Do not make a gal repeat three times that she is "just one." I believe covering it once with the hostess should suffice. But then the water gal brought two waters and asked again if I was just one. I braved it with poise, but when the server asked yet again, I found myself flaunting my diamond wedding-ring for all in earshot/eye shot. Oh I am so weak.
That is NOT to say, however, that I won't be back again, husband happily in hand, ready to test out my french appetite once more. I cannot wait to go back for Le Diner.
-le secret snob
*I passed a friend in the hallway once that couldn't stop to chat because she was too busy fixing up her friend with her estranged husband. He was on his way down from Bellingham to make the "grand gesture" and take my friend's advice by taking her to Le Pichet in the early evening. From then on, I've known I simply must try it.