Fall Flavors & French Cuisine Collide at Choc-O-Pain
I had the opportunity to taste Choc-O-Pain's fall seasonal menu last week and it was wonderful. The menu is well balanced with dishes that range from rich and creamy to light and bright. Traditional (American?) fall flavors pair beautifully with classic French cooking; something Choc-O-Pain prides themselves on.
We started with their Brie sandwich ($9). Creamy brie, peppery arugula, walnuts and honey-dijon on their cranberry walnut bread. The bread was wonderful, crunchy outside, and soft inside. The arugula pairs very well with the Brie. The sandwich had a nice mix of flavors and a fresh, seasonal feel as I ate it. I would have liked a little more honey-dijon on there though; for me that flavor was missing. Not that the sandwich needed it per se, just that it was in the description and I felt like I wasn't really getting that flavor.
The next dish was their Quiche Lorraine($6.30) and spicy tomato soup ($2.50 when added to the quiche). This dish, though small, is very heavy. The quiche had a wonderful, slight taste of ham, mixed with the swiss cheese and heavy cream. The crust was very nicely done, crisp and flaky all the way through. I would have liked to see something green in there, or perhaps a side salad instead (which you have the option to do). It just felt very heavy after a few bites. The soup, one of many they offer, was also good. A strong tomato flavor at first, followed by heat at the end, in the back of your mouth.
We then had a lentil salad ($10) and my first reaction was disappointment that the lentils were cold. In my opinion, a warm or even room temperature salad during cooler months is delicious. These lentils had a lot of flavor, cooked with mushroom, parsley, onion, carrots, shallots and other wonderful aromatics. The lentils are served over a mesclun salad with a hard-boiled egg and house dressing. I loved the egg because it's a very European way to serve a salad and reminded me of my relatives in Italy. And the dressing gives everything a nice zing. This dish is by far and away the most health conscious choice; very light, yet satisfying
The tasting finished with a pear and almond tart ($6). We were each served half as they are definitely large enough to share! Once again, the crust was perfect. I'm told this is because the tart shell is cooked separate from the filling. The filling was also very good, not too sweet which really let the pears stand out. I also love that they went with pears over apples. Sometimes it seems like pears are fall's forgotten fruit.
Overall I really enjoyed the fall menu at Choc-O-Pain. I think they managed to well combine traditional French cuisine with what we consider to be fall's best flavors. The menu will remain in place until the New Year and is available at all of their locations.