Pull the car over! I spy a patio. With red umbrellas. And wine glasses and fancy sandwiches. Today we eat at Cafe Deluxe. I so rarely eat out these days, that Cafe Deluxe was a delicious treat, a chance to be waited on while enjoying the sunny Saturday afternoon.
We asked to sit outside, on the sidewalk patio under the cover of the large red umbrellas, bathing all the diners in pools of golden red light. Our waitress was friendly, taking our drink orders and then hurrying off to attend to the many hungry customers enjoying the sunshine. As we sipped iced teas and studied the menu, our neighbors' food came. A beautiful onion and goat cheese tart was set in front of one of our dining neighbors, the other got a mountain of greens topped with a grilled salmon steak. We went back to the menus -- what were those items? How can we order them? Or do I actually want roasted beet with goat cheese salad? Steamed mussels in white wine with french fries? Herb roasted chicken with mashed potatoes? I was hungry enough that everything looked good. It was an indecisive kind of day.
By the time the waitress had rejoined us, I sucked it up and pointed at...the chicken paillard. I would like the chicken paillard, please. Except I didn't know what a paillard was. But it came with a salad of greens, figs, bacon and parmesan, so the chicken was kind of beside the point. The Boyfriend ordered a bacon cheeseburger. What can I say? Bacon on a summer Saturday afternoon. Life is good.
Our food was quite good, too. It turns out a paillard is just a sauteed chicken breast. It was served in a lovely sauce that, best as I can make out, was a reduction of chicken stock and butter and made want very badly to lick my plate. If the Boyfriend did not embarrass so easily, I most likely would have. The salad, also, was a wonderful combination of salty-sweet, crunchy-soft, fatty-acidic. Crisp, salty, warm bacon crumbles paired delciously with sweet dried figs and salty parmesan shavings. I shall be replicating this myself come fig season, with fresh figs and without any of that greenery to get in the way.
The Boyfriend's cheeseburger was juicy and just pink enough inside, topped with a thick slice of cheese and two pieces of bacon. Served with thin crispy fries that I totally did not eat off his plate. I swear.
And for dessert - a beautiful glass of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, layered with creme fraiche. I adore creme fraiche, sour cream's lighter, sweeter cousin, and was again tempted to run my finger around the empty glass and lick it. The Boyfriend is a good influence on me in public.
Hunger sated, we relaxed on the patio, rubbing our full bellies and sipping iced tea. The patio was full of old friends catching up on the doings of their children, first dates, family brunches, and elderly double dates. Servers zipped by carrying beautiful salads and large pizzas and golden brown fruit crumbles. Fathers strolled down the sidewalk on Wisconsin, pushing baby carriages, sweatty joggers zipped past, AU students in the wrinkled clothes and sunglasses that tell the world they are hungover.
Cafe Deluxe is nothing fancy, not even particularly special. Franco-American semi-upscale bistros exist nearly everywhere these days, serving dressed up comfort foods. But stretching out in the sunshine on Wisconsin Ave with nothing to do all day and the most handsome man I've ever met sitting across from me? I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.