city fare
Oct. 15, 2004

A delicious transport elsewhere
by Lisa Waterman Gray

When I shared a Café Mocha ($3.25) with my French-born friend, Anna, on the patio at Aixois French Restaurant, 301 E. 55th St., it reminded her of a café in Versailles. We also ordered a light, fluffy brioche ($2) and a raspberry-filled croissant ($2.50). I vowed to return for several meals.

Chef Emmanuel Langlade and his wife, Megan, opened Aixois (x-wah, ‘man from Aix-en-Provence’) in August 2001 after he finished cooking stints in Nottingham, England, Paris, Washington, D.C., Austin, TX and Parkville, MO. They also live in the neighborhood.

Aixois

Aixois French Restaurant proudly displays the French and American flags outside its door. (photo by Jessica Chapman)

Ellen has raved about Aixois ever since she began working at a neighborhood shop, and many of her customers stop there for lunch. On a rare weekday when we were both available, we joined the mid-day crowd.

Male diners were clearly in the minority. Conversations bounced off the hard walls and ceiling, creating a din that, at times, made it difficult to hear.

But Aixois’ food delights the eyes as well as the palate. My Salade verte au Coeur de Palmier ($5) was a work of art. Salt and sugar balanced perfectly in the balsamic vinaigrette that decorated a large mound of split pear tomatoes, hearts of palm and a riotous combination of mixed greens.

Two delicate, six-inch-long Seafood Crepes ($9.50) arrived piping hot and golden brown, an unusual but delicious combination of scallops, salmon, shrimp and an orange sauce with a slight cayenne afterburn. Mixed greens and a small broiled and herbed tomato half completed the plate.

Ellen enjoyed Vichyssoise ($4), a creamy, pureed and deftly salted potato soup, dotted with leek and parsley bits. Her Salade Nicoise ($8.50) featured balsamic vinaigrette atop greens, green beans, hard-boiled egg halves, bell peppers, Kalamata olives and large chunks of smoky and moist grilled tuna steak.

We shared an order of Profiteroles au Chocolat ($6). Vanilla bean ice cream filled three puff pastries that sat in a pool of chocolate sauce, with a deeper, thicker chocolate sauce and roasted almond slivers on top. We nearly swooned with gustatory pleasure.

A split serving of Diablo chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream ($6) topped off a weeknight dinner with Donna. Moist cake topped swirls of crème anglais and raspberry puree, and a puddle of deep chocolate sauce. More chocolate sauce and a brilliant green mint sprig decorated a single scoop of vanilla ice cream.

What came before included Moules au Roquefort (mussels cooked with Roquefort cream, $8.50), Assiette de fromages (imported cheese served with fresh fruit, $9.50), Filet de porc sauce dijonnaise (grilled pork tenderloin served with whole grain Dijon mustard sauce, $16), and Crevettes Grillees au pates fraiches (grilled shrimp over fresh pasta, $14.50). Half of each huge entrée portion made its way home.

Although the Roquefort cream provided a wonderful complement to tender mussels, it was so good that I also wanted to eat it as soup or pour it over Eggs Benedict.

The sharp flavor and slightly gritty texture of the mustard sauce made 10 small slices of pork tenderloin sing. A mound of overly dry mashed potatoes, a stem of broccoli and half a dozen tiny yellow pear tomatoes completed the plate.

Huge Lahvosh points thrust upward from Donna’s cheese and fruit. A fan of wafer-thin apple slices and a stem of red grapes, plucked at the peek of sweetness, accompanied strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and plump juicy blackberries. Four cheeses included creamy Brie, Port Salut, Morbier and locally crafted goat cheese.

Donna’s entrée included four jumbo shrimp, an enormous mound of tender one-inch-wide pasta noodles with carrot, zucchini, onion and red pepper shards, and a light sauce that alternately presented subtle sweetness and a mild bite.

A crisp Pinot Grigio ($8.50) provided the perfect accompaniment to our dinner. It is one of nearly 50 wines and dessert wines available — mostly French. Aixois also serves French, Belgian, Dutch and American beers.

On future visits, I may try Quiche du jour ($6.50), Pan Bagnat (grilled tuna sandwich, $8.50), Saumon papillotte (salmon baked in parchment, $17.50), Magret de canard grille (duck breast with bolets and cepes mushroom sauce, $18.50), Noisette d’agneau grillee (lamb loin served with a shiitake mushrooms and goat cheese sauce, $19.50) or Crème Brulee ($6). I’ve also heard the Mousse au chocolat ($5.50) is to die for.

Aixois’ children’s menu includes escargots, fruit and cheese, and simple desserts. Cheeseburgers, roasted chicken breast, grilled salmon or ham and cheese sandwich, and organic chicken and apple sausage come with French fries, fresh vegetables or salad.

On Monday evenings, Aixois offers special dinners that include soup or salad at $10.50 for fish entrees, $11.50 for chicken entrees and $12.50 for meat entrees. Dessert prices are also reduced.

During both meals, our waitresses were courteous and knowledgeable, and kept a close eye on our table. And, on each visit, I felt transported to a distant land for a brief but thoroughly satisfying adventure.

Aixois French Bistro

301 E. 55th St., Kansas City, MO

816-333-3305

COFFEE BAR:
Mon. Fri., -7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,
Saturday/Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

LUNCH: Tues.-Sat., 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
DINNER: Tues. Sat., 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Ratings: (out of four stars)

FOOD ***
SERVICE ***
ATMOSPHERE **1/2
PRICE  $$

Key: $-under $10 • $$-$10 to $20 • $$$-over $20

fork, knife, spoon


              
              
                 

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