Our visit to Main Street Parkville allowed us to sample a wide range of cuisine options. Within a few easily walk-able blocks, visitors can find anything from casual to refined elegance for dining choices. We wanted to sample every one of them, which meant we were in for quite the culinary adventure. We chose a visit to Cafe des Amis to fall as a lunch stop, during a day of exploring. After seeing their menu posted outside of the restaurant, we were anxious to savor some of their French cuisine.
We want to thank Main Street Parkville and Café des Amis for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Cozy and Quaint
Our morning meal had been hours ago, at the local B&B. (You can read about Main Street Inn here.) Hunger was beginning to call out to us, and we were anticipating more than a meal. Having prior knowledge that owners Guillaume and Ingrid Hanriot are from the Champagne region of France, increased our anticipation. We knew the dishes would be full of delicate, yet complimentary flavors. The hostess seated us with a window view of the downtown. We timed our visit to be a late lunch, in hopes of missing the normal weekend rush. Our server, Sarah, welcomed us to the oldest business building in downtown Parkville. (Built in 1844) She walked us through the menu and included some suggestions based on dishes she enjoys.
With Sarah’s assistance, we were able to plan out our entire meal. We knew it would come in stages, which allowed time to savor each dish properly. While this cuisine is designed to be complimented by certain wines, we decided to forego this and stick with water. Sarah brought us a tray of crusty French bread, with lavender salted butter, to munch on while our meal was being prepared.
Dining With Our Eyes
In order to get the best cross section of flavors, Crystal and I decided to split dishes where possible. We started with Salade Cafe des Amis, which combines baby greens, red pepper, Portabella mushrooms, blue cheese crumbles, and candied spiced walnuts. Even a simple salad becomes a culinary masterpiece when the correct selection of flavors are combined.
Refined Elegance at Café des Amis
The next course included a pair of seafood based dishes. It is fair to say that most people have heard of escargot, yet many have not tasted a dish containing snails. My first experience was at Café des Amis, when I ordered the Feuilleté D’Escargots. The dish consists of six Burgundy wild snails in a butter sauce, with garlic and fresh herbs. The flavor was a delightful blend that begged to be completed. It was apparent that the crusty bread was a perfect way to sop up every drop of the delicious sauce. Sarah arrived again shortly, with my order of Coquilles St. Jacques Au Gratin. This breaded and baked dish of sherry sautéed scallops and mushrooms is served in a béchamel sauce. The addition of tomato had tinted the “white sauce” to a beautiful hue of orange. The addition of a baked squid ink wafer added an architectural element to the dish.
A Taste of Brunch
Time for a confession. Not for me, but for Crystal. She is not nearly as open to new flavors as I am, so she was skipping the opportunity to sample the seafood dishes I had chosen. Her loss was my gain, as each one presented a new flavor combination that my taste buds had yet to discover. Now it was her turn, as the Quiche Lorraine was served. This labor intensive dish consists of 36 hour poached ham, bacon, sautéed onions and Swiss Cheese. Baked to golden perfection, I could immediately see that Crystal was happy with her choice. Our final dish to be served reminded me that it was a good thing I had let her have the majority of the salad.
Sarah brought out a lidded pot that contained my order of Moules Marinières Faςon Odile. I knew that this would be all mine, since Crystal was busy with her quiche. When the lid was removed, a plume of steam rose from the pot. Inside I spied Prince Edwards Island mussels in a sherry wine, shallots, herbs, and light cream sauce. This was definitely another fantastic dish that offered a depth of flavors. Soon, my pot was empty and our meal was complete. Sarah returned to tempt us with dessert, but we had no room left for it.
Returning to Our Discoveries
Our thoughts were turning to our afternoon of exploring, and we wondered how many people would recognize the look of satisfaction that comes from a meal at Cafe des Amis. Time for us to make our way back into public, but we would carry with us the memory of the refined elegance we just enjoyed. With an afternoon still ahead of us, it was certain that we had plenty of energy to take on any challenge.