My husband had a birthday recently and he got to pick where we were going to have his celebratory birthday dinner. We actually go out to eat a lot, and tend to frequent the same old places, but on a birthday outing it’s a no holds barred event where we will actually spend a bit more no matter where we go, and we make sure we are hungry when we leave home, like skip lunch or something like that. I know this is not a healthy way to eat, but hey – it’s a birthday celebration!
After seeing the movie Julie and Julia last year my husband began his fascination with french cooking. He wasn’t even that interested in going to see this “chick flick” with us, but he became thoroughly enchanted with it. Thanks a lot Meryl Streep. Your portrayal of Julia Child won his heart and has caused me to gain about 20 lbs. He started watching JC on Saturday’s TV cooking shows. He became infatuated with the correct pronunciation of French words. He watched the ads for French enameled cookware. He started buying leeks.
I got him the books he wanted for Christmas - Mastering the the Art of French Cooking – and I immediately had a monster on my hands. We both gained weight, fast. I quickly joined Weight Watchers to stop the madness. But still…we love to go to our favorite French Restaurant, La Crepe Michel, and he, in deference to my dieting, will sneak over there for lunch without me sometimes. This was a special occasion though, and his choice of venue. I should have seen it coming.
La Crepe Michel is located in a little courtyard off San Felipe Street in Old Town Albuquerque. Most locals will stay away from Old Town, especially on the weekends in the summer because parking can be a problem with all the seasonal tourists – but a really good restaurant will cause Burqueños to throw caution to the wind, and La Crepe Michel IS that restaurant. On Friday, in the summer months, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (which is adjacent to and has a walkway through to some Old Town Plaza courtyards) has outdoor concerts and these draw crowds of locals and tourists alike. Even though, we were lucky and found great parking right along San Felipe a few doors down from the courtyard that is home to La Crepe Michele.
OK – so now we are greeted and seated in the front room next to a window with a view onto the small courtyard. Across from me I see an angel painted on the gate across the way and that, coupled with the perfect parking spot we got, made me think…we are definitely supposed to be here tonight.
Being a seasoned Crepe Michel patron now I know better than to order my entree off the menu, because every night there are several specials to cause serious brain conflict. There were four this night…rabbit, mussels, sea bass and beef. I chose Bar aux capres – Sea Bass in a caper cream sauce. Rol chose Lapin au vin blanc which was very much like his own white wine coc au vin made with Reisling and Chicken, only they braised a rabbit. Both were served with fresh steamed veggies and au gratin potatoes. That choice having been made we also decided to share a french onion soup and I ordered an incredible plate of mixed greens sided with toasted french bread topped with a delicious goat cheese. These latter items are ALWAYS available and ALWAYS good choices. My hub also had to try the soup de jour – a cool basil and tomato bisque. Very special – very good.
Being so happy with our choices so far, I had to slow myself down a bit with a glass or two of white wine, lest I cause myself serious gastro unhappiness with my eagerness to have more fun faster with this food before me. We went slow and savored it all. We also shared an incredible dessert – we usually don’t – Charlotte, a chocolate mouse and ladyfinger cake, with a candle of course. I sang to him our family birthday dirge, low and muffled so not to attract attention. I hate those restaurant birthday spectacles.
There are no bad meals at La Crepe Michel, ever. We have never had a guest we referred there come back unhappy, including our guests from France who find it delightful. So do yourself a favor – even if you are not a guest at our Albuquerque Bed and Breakfast – have at least one meal at La Crepe Michel in Old Town Albuquerque during your visit. We saw a lot of Old Town strolling looky loos pass by, glance at the menu and move on, and I thought to myself – poor folks, they are really missing out.
Many people writing food reviews in their blogs will take less than flattering photos with their cell phones. I couldn’t to that injustice to the chef, Claudie Zamet-Wilcox. Just go there and see for yourself…there will be no disappointment. If you need further enticement…
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!