Thursday, April 12, 2012

Frankreich: ein verdammt guter Deal

I left La Bonne Franquette thinking that I'd had a great lunch and marveling at the amazing deal they offer: three courses for 13 Euros, including a nonalcoholic drink. All of that in a chic modern Brasserie complete with a chalkboard menu. Now that it's been a week or so and I've had a chance to reflect on the meal, I still think it's a good deal, but the food quality was pretty spotty. Out of six dishes, one dish was very good. So good that I have been thinking about it since and next time I'm somewhere between Nordbahnhof and Hamburger Bahnhof around lunchtime, I will very likely return. The flank steak with frites bumped my bill up an extra 3 Euros, but it was worth it. Flank steak isn't a common cut in these parts, but it's one of my favorites. The meat had great flavor and an excellent charred crust. But the frites! Best I've had in Berlin hands down. If/when I go back, I'll skip the appetizer and dessert and have a great steak lunch for 10 Euros (LBF offers one course for seven Euros plus the three Euro supplement).

In addition to the excellent steak, we also sampled the French (obviously) onion soup and the pork pate, which were both good, but not life changing. The onions in the soup might have caramelized a tad, the broth could have had deeper flavor, the bowl should have had a nice crust of Gruyere on top instead of a single small Gruyere crouton, but it was a decent bowl of soup. I'm sure they don't make the pate, but it was good, not great, but for the price, good. The real low point of the meal was the red mullet with zucchini gratin. We should have known not to order fish. It's rarely very fresh in Berlin and this fish had an off taste. That alone would have ruined the plate, but the wan zucchini gratin wasn't heated through. I know it's a 13 Euro lunch deal, but they need to figure out how to get the food hot.

With such low prices, LBF surely can't afford a pastry chef, but they need to figure out how to make a few simple desserts well. We split chocolate mousse and coconut flan. The mousse tasted suspiciously like it came from a mix (specifically the one my husband made me years ago - the ONLY thing he's ever made me). If it's not a mix, they're using terrible chocolate. The flan was rather soggy and lacked any real coconut flavor, but there was a delicious smear of salted caramel on the plate. A decent brasserie needs to have a few good desserts, especially chocolate mousse. No excuses here.

Despite it's flaw, I really enjoyed my lunch (I was starving, though, and the company was good). That said, one good dish (or three if we're rounding up) out of six even for a good price isn't all that spectacular. There are a lot of lunch deals in Berlin and I've yet to find a place that really knows how to make this concept work. That said, LBF knows how to make steak frites and I'd go back for that in a heartbeat.

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