A couple of weeks ago in the middle of a hurricane in downtown Seattle, I asked Carrie to go with me to Le Pichet to sample this chocolat chaud of which she writes so lovingly. Chaud. Sounds like something you’d call your baby brother after he drove his car into the pond on a dare. I had avoided the place because I’m not crazy for french food. Nothing at Le Pichet convinced me to come there again for food, but since I’ve already returned once more for the chaud? You know it had to be good.
On the maiden voyage during that hurricane, the place was so packed that we were forced to squeeze in at the end of the counter. After looking over the menu and seeing nothing appealing, not seeing a croque monsieur on the menu didn’t stop me from trying to get a little grilled cheese action. Especially since I knew that they serve it at their sister cafe on Capitol Hill, Cafe Presse. ”Croque monsieur?” the server scoffed at my question. ”This is a country restaurant, not a street cafe.” This had me looking out the front windows at the countryside on 1st and Virginia.
After confirming with Carrie that I’d heard what I thought I’d heard, I ordered a ham and cheese baguette. Sure the server’s statement begged questions and maybe ridicule, but it wasn’t in me. Carrie got her usual of baked eggs. The baguette was untoasted and cold, and after one bite I decided to save it for when I could get it home to toast it and added it to the list of “Things I’ll Never Order Again” and waited for the chocolate.
Doesn’t it look awesome? James said it has the texture of hot pudding. No, James wasn’t there with us that day, but that was his observation less than two weeks later when I’d gone long enough without a fix and dragged him in to see if it was as good as I remembered.
Some assembly required:
Each cup of melted chocolate comes with a side of lightly sweetened cream.
A girl can get giddy with all that cream.
After my initial sip, I realized I’d had this drink before, in Spain. This was Spanish hot chocolate, or what I’d associated with Spanish hot chocolate. Melted chocolate with milk, or heavy cream. No powdered cocoa or sugar involved. I don’t like pudding, but James is right, it’s more like a hot, melty pudding. And for $6, it’s so filling, it’s a meal in itself. They server it at Cafe Presse for $5, which is another reason why all my future fixes will be from there.
When I went with James, I decided to try another item on the menu, one of the tartines, warm chèvre ($6.5).
The tartines are open-faced sandwiches on country bread (served with the un-sweetened baby gherkins, otherwise known as cornichons). I had anticipated a lot more toasting action going on, but alas, no. The goat cheese would’ve been so much better on baguette.
James went for a dessert with his dessert (ok, I made him get it because we were supposedly going to share the sandwich), the cherry financier ($6).
When the server told us this was a cherry cake, I suspected the worst. However, this was pretty damn good. The cake was dense and moist, but had been baked to a crisp on the outside. The filling was lightly sweet, and the slight sour of the cherry didn’t kick in until after a few seconds of chewing.
The sauce was a vanilla bean…something. I didn’t dip too much because I was already in dessert overload from the chaud. Le Pichet doesn’t need me spreading accolades about them–every single time I’ve passed the place, people have been crammed into the joint–so they won’t miss the business I’ll be taking up to Cafe Presse. Carrie had told me it was pretty much the same with her, but I know she’s more open to the whole french experience than I am. Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit rock-n-roll to their country? They do know how to make a good cuppa chocolate.