Saturday, July 14, 2007

My quest for the perfect omelette (Bonne Fête Nationale)

It's Bastille Day today, so a blog entry on a French theme seems appropriate, and my quest for a proper omelette in this city seems to fit. This may sounds trivial but when you are vegetarian, often an omelette frites is all you're getting (& should be grateful for), given the proliferation of cod French bistros over here.

Pastis served an omelette aux fines herbes which is on a par with the offering at an English motorway service station cafeteria: a rubbery, three inch high, pallid oval lump of dry solidified scrambled egg, which had clearly never been near a frying pan. It was revolting, akin to one of those microwaveable omelettes in the freezer section. And, worse still, when I called the waitress over to complain that this was not an omelette, all she could come up with was that she wouldn't know as she had never been to France. The manager was rude, implied I didn't know what I was talking about and only very grudgingly bought me a replacement fridge-cold pile of over-dressed salad. It's very, very tempting to send Keith McNally the entry on omelettes from Larousse.

Diners here tend to serve variations on the above theme for breakfast, made on a griddle, rather than a semi-circular, frying pan-made, flipped over omelette, but they are at least edible, and you know what to expect when ordering. I'm just offended by supposedly 'French' restaurants that try to pass off execrable cooking as authentically French. ("Omelette aux fines herbes" does rather suggest one will be getting an authentic omelette experience.) (Felix in Soho is another shocker).

Then today L & I crawled out of our respective beds and to Casimir on B and 6th for brunch, where I had an absolutely perfect omelette: an inch or so high, light, golden, slightly tanned around the sides, obviously cooked & flipped in a frying pan, wet in the middle and tasting of fresh eggs. Finally, a New York/French restaurant that didn't ram its Frenchness down your throat and actually had someone in the kitchen who could cook. Result.