Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cafe Campagne

Cafe Campagne
1600 Post Alley at Pine
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 728-2233

This place is great. It is provincial-style French food in the Pike Place Market. People rave about Cafe Campagne, so, since I am so often disappointed by other people's favorites, I went in with low expectations.  However, from the start to the finish of my experience, everything was wonderful. Plus, it was one of those almost hot September days in Seattle (yes, I know, I'm most likely violating some sort of food-reviewer's protocol by waiting more than 2 weeks to post my review - please forgive), and I was reveling in the last bit of real sunshine before the grey autumn chill.

First off, I was quickly seated on the patio outside at a lovely four-person, table-clothed table, despite being all alone. That was nice. I'm annoyed by the condescending games some hot spots play. The restaurant might be eerily empty, but the staff can't find a single place for you to sit, and then they sneer at you as though you should have known better than to show up without a reservation. Granted, I had arrived at Cafe Campagne at that awkward time between lunch and happy hour. Most places don't have hundreds of reservations for 3:40. Regardless, the hostess was gracious and the server was even more so.

I should probably also mention that upon entry, I was greeted by a lovely bouquet of sunflowers and a menu bathed in light.  The entry was clean and lovely.

I also appreciated the fact that the servers poured drinking water from glass pitchers without ice. There was no ice! I repeat: the water was room temperature and beautiful. I even confirmed that the absence of ice was intentional. Refreshing not to have to ask for "water no ice" for a change.


Well, I had an hour to kill and I was hungry. It was almost 4 P.M. Happy hour at Cafe Campagne starts at 4, and it looks wonderful. For only $2 you get a hefty Petite Burger D'Agneau (Small lamb burger served with balsamic onions and aïoli on gougère) and $1 for the Pâté Sandwich (Country-style pork and chicken liver pâté on gougère).One very nice feature of Cafe Campagne is that you need not order a full glass of wine, but may order3 oz. wine "tastes" for a few dollars. During happy hour these "tastes" are half off.

Alas, I ordered off of the lunch menu because I didn't have time to wait for happy hour to start. On the server's recommendation, I ordered the Pâté de Campagne (country-style pork and liver pâté with traditional garnishes) and a nice glass of dry white wine. The garnishes included little mini pickles (cornichon), a generously sized and well dressed mixed green salad, two types of mustard, black and green provencal olives (you can see them peeking out from under the onions in the lower picture), and several slices of pickled onion.  I was also served a lovely little baguette with a beautiful clean triangular pat of unsalted butter. This was a meal.

I  finished off my wine and a good portion of the lovely, rich hearty pâté. Then, I had to go...so I asked for the bill and collected my things.

As I was leaving I befriended a neighbor. He comes to Cafe Compagne every year from Chicago. He loves it. He ordered and loved the Calamar à la Provençal (Squid sautéed with olive oil, garlic, parsley, capers and lemon), which had been on my mind since looking at the menu.

The "sassy" came as I was walking away, up the alley. I turned to get a final shot of the patio, and two gentlemen asked if they were in the picture.  You can see them, behind the Vespa scooter.

 So, I came back and said that they were, and could I please take another shot. They said, "Sure."

Then, I walked up to their table and chatted with them for a moment, asking how their meal had been. I explained that I had just eating a few tables down, but was on my way. They explained that everything had been delicious, and WOULD I LIKE A BITE OF THEIR FOOD?

Why yes, I said. (This is sassy at its best - when I don't even have to ask!)

They handed me a piece of what looked  like ricotta and bacon pizza (see the hand, above, coming towards me...), but on the menu is described as Tarte flambée (Savory bacon and onion tarte). It wasn't hot out of the oven, so I'm giving the tarte the benefit of the doubt. It was really just ok. Dough-y. No bright flavors of which to report. Bacon was flat. Onions flat. Tasted a lot like a drier version of one of Pagliacci's no tomato sauce ricotta cheese pizzas. I also tasted their Pommes Frites (french fries), which had also lost some of their luster, sitting outside, now,  for half an hour or maybe more ( you can see them hiding under a napkin on the left).

Although these sassied bites were fun, they weren't the most tantalizing, gastronomically speaking. Meeting these two charming gentlemen, both in the health care industry in the New York City area, was the highlight of this sassy experience, and worth the effort.  They were in Seattle for a conference and both were full of life and humor. My yearnings to return to NYC re-stimulated, I said goodbye and considered how much I enjoy how bites of food facilitate meetings such as these.

Cafe Campagne on Urbanspoon


s said...

Try upstairs sometime for the real Campagne, esp once cassoulet season begins. Love the location and feel but for bistro fare I like Presse/Pichet!

Sassy Critic said...

S - I am looking forward to "upstairs"...and yes, love me some Presse/Pichet!