French Food and Food in France - Casse Croûte

This is going to be a pretty random post dating back to September when we went to the newly opened Casse Croûte on Bermondsey Street.  The restaurant is across the street from José, which means one could theoretically jump back and forth between the two restaurants and experience an amazing mini-food crawl.  However, Casse Croûte is tiny, and if you are lucky enough to get a table there, you'll want to stay put and enjoy.  And there is much to be enjoyed, from the red and white checkered tablecloths, to the warm neighborhood vibe, to the scents of butter, garlic and herbs wafting through the restaurant.  Good thing there is much to be enjoyed because the food is slow to arrive but worth the wait.

I wasn't able to capture every dish we had (went with the parents), but a small selection from the meal includes a cheese souffle, pork tenderloin with lentils, and the duck parmentier.  Believe it or not this was the first cheese souffle I've ever had and maybe that's for the best...because it's too addictive!  The top slightly browned bit was the best, but then inside was light and airy.  It felt slightly undercooked at the bottom but I kind of liked that.

The pork with lentils came in a cast iron skillet and could not have been more different from the souffle. There were several well cooked thick chunks of braised pork.  The lentils were more like a thick stew and reminded me a french style daal.  Only issue is that it was very salty.

The duck parmentier was just a little pot of heaven.  Duck confit topped with buttery mashed potatoes and baked till golden brown.  There is nothing not to like about this, it puts the shepards pie to shame.  The salad that comes with it was a nice attempt to cut through the richness of the disk, but unfortunately it was bland and too oily.  But hey, we were not there for the salad.

Casse Croûte does a remarkable job of bringing french bistro look, feel and tastes to London.  The prices are reasonable too.  However no matter how good a French restaurant is, I recognize that there is just something about the food IN France that tastes so very different.  We were reminded of this last month when spending a weekend in Fontainebleu, about 40 mins outside Paris.  Twice we wandered around this tiny town and easily found down to earth good food.  One of these places was Bistrot 9.  I don't generally go for escargot but couldn't resist this time.  Even though each little pod pictured below looks artery-clogging, this was surprisingly expected.

We also tried the the local version of duck parmentier and found it equally (obviously more) as tasty as Casse Croûte's.  To have this genius dish twice in nearly two months is definitely a treat I don't deserve but will accept anyways.

Of course, no trip to France is complete without going to the bakery so I can drool over the desserts and indulge in plain all butter croissants.  Indeed it's the simple things that I enjoy the most.


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