1423 34th Ave
Like the French, I'm a pompous dick. Also like the French, I love French food, so I went to Cremant.
I started with the Oeuf en Gelee au Porto ($9). It sounds so lovely in French, but what is it? A soft boiled egg encased in ASPIC! Aspics are savory Jell-O molds, and they haven't been in style since the 50's. It takes me back to that bygone decade when you could smoke in a maternity ward. Not just in the waiting room, but inside the nursery that contained the babies! You could blow smoke into the newborn's face and even offer the infant a cigar of his own. “Congratulations,” a hypothetical man of the 1950's could tell the baby, “It's a... you!” Then he and the baby finished their cigars, knocked back some whiskey, and talked about the Brooklyn Bombers, whoever they are. Of course, not everything was so peachy in the 1950's. For instance, it was very difficult to get two chicks to make out and let you watch.
But I digress. The Oeuf en Gelee was tasty. Inside a round ball of wine- flavored gelatin, shrouded mummy- like in thinly sliced ham, was a soft boiled egg. It was served atop a small bed of greens, so when you cut into the egg the yolk ran down and became a dressing for the greens. The Gratinee des Halles ($12) is Cremant's take on the classic French onion soup. It's astonishingly rich, and the layers of flavor are built up by the onions being grilled first before caramelizing.
The Salade Verte Aux Fines Herbs ($9) sucked. This was an enormous mound of mixed greens, and in case you think quantity always beats quality, I remind you that while there are many sets of 36DD breasts in this world, very few of them are worth ogling. The “Fines Herbs” in the salad's name weren't very “fines,” and the champagne vinaigrette was too thin. I wasn't impressed, since the basic demonstration of a restaurant's style is in the green salad. It was all bland, and would have benefited immensely from the culinary equivalent of a reach around: plain old salt and pepper. My fortunes changed when I ordered the Gateaux de Foie de Volaille ($9). This was a satiny smooth chicken liver terrine, served in a small mason jar, and sealed beneath a layer of the same aforementioned aspic.
The Jarret d'Agneau au Vin Rouge ($22) was a lamb shank, braised in red wine until it fell off the bone. It came with a ramekin of aoli (mental note: complain about aoli in a future review) and was served atop a smashed Yukon Gold which was so lightly smashed that the smashing didn't look intentional. It was barely dented. In fact, that potato looked as though someone started to step on it, then realized they were stepping on a potato and jumped off before they could totally crush it. Still, it was good. The skin was crisp and the flesh was creamy. What more can you ask of a smashed potato? I guess you could ask it to grant you wishes, but something tells me that would work as well as my revisions to Keynesian Economic Theory.
The Steak Tartare ($17) was, like Lucky Charms, magically delicious. Raw beef chopped with capers, onions, and a beaten egg. If you've never eaten steak tartare because you're afraid of raw meat, get over it. If you'll put genitals into your mouth you'll eat steak tartare. You're guaranteed to feel like a caveman when you eat it. But you won't just feel like any old caveman, you'll feel like a FRENCH caveman: the kind of caveman who invents wine and confuses religious fundamentalists by existing 4000 years before they claim earth was created by Santa Claus. As for dessert, try the Cognac au Chocolat ($4). It comes in an aperitif glass and it's like an alcoholic chocolate mousse.
All in all, I'd say Cremant is good, but its rating is hampered by its prices. Plus they've got a big problem: Le Pichet. Any discourse about French food in this town has to include Le Pichet, the best restaurant in Seattle, which has set the gold-- no, fuck that, what's better than gold? --the BRAZILIAN WAX standard for French food. Le Pichet is delicious, cheap, and authentic. I suppose Cremant occupies a different market niche from Le Pichet, so perhaps they can't compare. After all, if Le Pichet is a country bistro, Cremant is a Parisian brasserie. Le Pichet is brightly lit and utilitarian, while Cremant is dim and sexy. Le Pichet is Jerry Lewis; Cremant is Barry White. In fact, Cremant is so sexy that the sexy radiation emanating from Cremant reanimated Barry White, who became a zombie, dug himself out of the grave, picked up Anne Bancroft's cadaver, and took her rotting corpse out to dinner at Cremant. Why would the management of Cremant tolerate the presence of two stinky zombies? Answer: they couldn't help themselves. That's how cool Barry White is. Even as a decaying corpse he still WOWS you.
7 dead R&B superstars (but not Isaac Hayes because he's a Scientologist) out of 10.