We pretty much like cuisines of all flavors and regions (as long as there are no nuts), but sometimes French food can be hit or miss for us. Yes, there would be no fine dining or breakfast without the French and lord knows French pastry rocks our world, but French entrees don’t always hit the spot. Of course, after enjoying cassoulet in some remote-ish town in Northern-ish France a few years ago we’ve been fond of the dish and take to ordering it when we see it on a reliable menu.
A couple of weekends ago we had a little Napa holiday and even though Napa often gets a bad rap these days—overpriced, overrated, overcrowded—one of the highlights was our meal at Angèle, a romantic French restaurant that overlooks the Napa River. Everything looked good, but the cassoulet was really calling our name. “House Made Sausage, Ham Hock, Duck Confit and Cellini Beans “Paella” Chicken, Chorizo, Mussels, Clams with Saffron Rice” was hard to pass up. It was less stew-like then most cassoluet we’ve had in the States and much more bean focused, but the beans, having so clearly been soaking in a happy bath of seafood and duck confit for hours if not days, made the flavor so definite and powerful that we couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls of it long after we’d determined we were full. It also came to the table in it’s own Le Cruset pot, which while more for show then anything, was still endearing and we’d like to think flavor-enhancing.
If you can’t make it to Napa (or find yourself more partial to Sonoma), word has it that Jeanty at Jacks in the Financial District is the best bet for cassoulet in the City. For a more low-key option we highly recommend Mistral Rotisserie Provencale, which may sound pretentious, but the warm, accessible, cozy little space adjacent from the somewhat less cozy Slated Door is one of our favorite places to catch some heartwarming French food. Cassoulet may not be always be one the menu, but just about anything else you decide to go with—lamb stew, duck, Ratatouille—will put a smile on your face.
Angèle [Official Site]
Jeanty at Jacks [MenuPages]
Jeanty at Jacks [Official Site]
Mistral Rotisserie Provencale [Menupages]
Mistral Rotisserie Provencale [Official Site]
Slated Door [Menupages]
Slated Door [Official Site]
[Photo: Duck confit and Haricot bean cassoulet via avlxyz/flickr]