Sunday, January 17, 2010

La Table Anna, Reims, France - May 2008

Upon being (mercifully) released from the herd for lunch during a verylarge bus tour group during a day trip to Reims, our Epicurean Spidey Senses led us to what would be one of the best meals of our Paris vacation. When we stumbled upon La Table Anna, it was like walking into a storybook French cottage. It was elegant yet homey, with starched white tablecloths and napkins.  A hodgepodge of local art, flowers, pastels, and other decorative adornments only enhanced the appeal of the ambiance. We were the first patrons to walk in at a little before noon, and we definitely experienced the slight sensation of being "sized up" as we were in our jeans and decidedly American. There was obviously some discussion between the proprietress and her staff over where they should put us...front room or back. I definitely got a sense of "How are they going to act?"..."Are they going to go all weird about unfamiliar food and a non-English menu?...Will they be loud?...Are they the type who will expect us to speak English?".  Okay, maybe I only imagined that part (there's nothing like being among the French to make you feel downright cloddish by comparison).  Doesn't matter, 'cause they seated us in the front and we made them proud. :)

Folks...if anyone here visits Reims, this gem is not to be missed. NO ONE in the restaurant speaks English, so be prepared to work for what you will be SO worth it. While there was a 29 Euro prix fixe lunch menu, the entrees all looked so divine that I inquired in my broken college French if we could order entrees only, tapas-style. The proprietress seemed okay with that and moved us to a larger table for four which would accommodate several plates.  After ordering two Kir Royales, we then requested a bottle of  champagne and a wonderful platter of beef carpaccio; a foie gras pate platter which came with dark bread toast, nuts, sea salt, and fruit preserves for garnishment; 12 of the plumpest, most delicious escargot I have ever put into my mouth (presented in a lovely pewter dish resembling a bunch of grapes, with one morsel nestled inside each "grape"); and the crowning glory...pan seared foie gras nestled atop a plate of sauteed apples (at this point in the Paris Foie Gras Overload, I was beginning to feel relatively certain that PETA would be waiting for me at JFK with handcuffs and a can of spray paint when I arrived back in the U.S.).  It all came with the requisite basket of tangy, moist, crunchy-on-the-outside French bread slices...the better to sop up escargot herb and garlic butter with.

The restaurant had since filled up with nothing but French-speaking post-church locals (from what I am guessing based on the only language I heard and the nicer dress of the patrons in the early Sunday afternoon hours) and we were SO loathe to leave. We were left with no choice but to order a couple of desserts...a flaming calvados and apple tart with pecan (I think) ice cream for me, and some sort of layered, chocolate mousse w/ pastry concoction with a glass of tawny port for the hub-unit. Oozing font-like love and kudos in expression, appetite, and crappy French for our previously-wary proprietress, as well as offering a display of pristinely-cleaned plates and a seriously healthy tip for our server (once the 150 Euro l'addition had been proffered) made us all new besties (we were actually chased out into the street for a few more Merci Beaucoups after we were forced to leave). What a wonderful, unforgettable dining experience this was for us!

The Mandatory Foie Gras Pate

Carpaccio Perfection

The BestEscargotInTheWorld

I Get A Warning "Back Off" Look As My Beloved Snarfs The Pan-Seared Foie Gras With Apple

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