Stepping into Au Cheval I instantly thought, “If Maude’s Liquor Bar had a boyfriend, this would be it”. French, cozy, dark, and mysterious. Not necessarily the words that come to mind when you think of a diner. The only thing in common with a diner is the floor plan; long counter with bar stools facing the open kitchen with ample grill space. Comfortable leather booths line the perimeter and go nicely with the relaxed atmosphere. Good to note, they do not take reservations and showing up early pays off (we got there at 6pm and only had to wait about 15 minutes).
Given this is a diner and as my friend Courtney pointed out, French, eggs everywhere on the menu should not have surprised me. You could put an egg on anything. Fries: put an egg on it. Salad: put an egg on it. Made me think of the Portlandia episode, “Put A Bird On It.”
We definitely put an egg on it, the crispy fries come with mornay sauce, garlic aioli and a fried farm egg.
The pictures I took did not turn out so I turned to the Au Cheval website to see if I could borrow some of theirs and low and behold an official explanation, “The name, Au Cheval, if you didn’t know, is a play on the French culinary term a cheval. The literal translation is “on horseback,” and in a culinary sense it refers to a dish with an egg atop.”
Speaking of horseback, Horse’s Neck is a mighty fine cocktail with George Kappeler, 1895. Old Overholt Rye, lemon, ginger beer, angostura (I believe that is a type of bitters). This is a strong drink in terms of flavor, heartiness and *almost* on the savory side.
I took a shine to the Hemingway Daiquiri, Flor de Cona Rum, maraschino, grapefruit, and lime. A drink that you know means trouble because it is so absolutely refreshing and sweet you forget you are drinking alcohol. I will order this again.
To get some greens in the meal we ordered the Winter Green Salad served with preserved lemon, fines herbes & sherry vinaigrette. I recommend this as a nice addition to balance out the heavier menu items you will undoubtedly be ordering. Crisp and fresh with a nice zing from the lemon.
The menu is not all French, the General Jane’s honey fried chicken was nice and spicy (the way I like it) with chili, sesame seeds and cilantro. I think I ate most of this dish, belated apologies to my dinner mates. A wise feature, it comes with wet wash cloths to wipe your hands when you are done.
On to what everyone is talking about, the Fried Bologna Sandwich. When is the last time you had one of these? I seriously could not remember. We decided to go old school and not get any cheese on it (the pic below does have cheese though). I am not sure what I was expecting but it just seemed really um, tall. Although I did not care for it I do understand why it is so popular. They make the bologna in-house so it’s the real deal, very rich taste and the bun was soft and crispy.
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the beautiful tower of deliciousness that is mille feuille. Perfect puffed pastry with pastry cream, how can you go wrong?? You must get this.
I want to come back after midnight when the chilaquiles come out (that sounds like code for something else but it’s not, swear) and for brunch because: