A trip to Northern France without the $900 ticket in Decatur, GA no less, at Cafe Alsace

Beef Wellington
La Boeuf Wellington (my camera does not do it justice — superb).

She sits across from me and she is more beautiful than she knows. I compliment her and she blushes. She admonishes herself for her reddened cheeks. There is no reason for her to do this, for I am overjoyed at the opportunity to speak a mere truth. She is such lovely company — something I’ve needed for so long. I take a sip of the chilled pinot noir and grab a crusty chunk of bread and I am transported to Northern France on the border to Germany. And she is with me.

Thus it was on a Saturday night when I had reason to dine at Cafe Alsace in Downtown Decatur, GA.

The chilled pinot was perfect and tasty. So authentic to the region. The company and food elevated the evening and helped transport me to a place where my spirit has been before but my body has never visited. Someday. Soon. Hopefully with her.

Cafe Alsace has been bringing the North of France to the fortunate residents of Decatur since 1997. It is a shame I did not discover it sooner. Small, yes. Quaint, yes. Authentic, yes. Fantastique? You betcha! They are located at 121 East Ponce de Leon, Decatur, GA 30030, 404-373-5622. They only take reservations for parties of four or more so if you’re a twosome you may have to wait on standby until they can fit you in. Fortunately, we arrived early enough after the 6 PM opening to get a quick seat.

I ordered the beef Wellington. Our lovely server, who was very forgiving of my high school French, would not have accepted any order other than medium rare. That was what I requested and that was how my Wellington was received. Why ruin a perfect piece of beef with too much heat? The puff-pastry-enrobed chunk of bovine goodness was saturated with a delightful green peppercorn sauce. It arrived cut down the middle on top of a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with a touch of fennel. In the notch was cubed ruby-red beets with a plucked fresh from the ground yumminess to them.

My lovely lady ordered the special which was filets of salmon filled with salmon mousse, topped with seared shrimp with a seafood velout sauce. Now I’m just guessing, but does velout mean velvet in French? Because that is the word that comes to mind when I tasted it. It came with a side of spaetzle — a further nod to France’s northern neighbor Deutschland.

We both had salads with a fig vinagrette that we enjoyed. Figs are in season and I love them in season. It’s June in Georgia people and the crops came in early. Get them fresh while you can! It was nice to have them incorporated into this dressing.

Dessert? Oui, of course. La creme brulee. We each had our own because we both love it and that is just one thing I will not share (well, if that was the last one in the restaraunt I would be a perfect gentleman and let her have at least a spoonful). I was stuffed but almost could have had another. It was all I could do to keep myself from licking the ramiken.

The dessert was sweet, but the company was sweeter. She has invited me to experience Dim Sum next Sunday at the Canton House. I don’t even know what that is. I’ve heard the term, but have not experienced the experience.

“Don’t even research it,” she says to me with a Mona Lisa grin. “I want you to experience it fully for the first time with me.”

Don’t pinch me. I do not wish to be awakened from this dream. Man, it’s going to be a long week.