On French time

Parc Bistro

Escargot, just taking it easy
  • Escargot, just taking it easy

Parc Bistro Brasserie

2760 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill

Since 1903, the only interruptions to the Tour de France have been the two World Wars. Every summer the world’s best cyclists complete a 21-day circuit of the hexagonal country, often dipping briefly into Spain, Italy, Switzerland, or Belgium while the countryside turns out to watch.

Lobster with gnocchi and green peas

Lobster with gnocchi and green peas

Considering the extended vacations enjoyed by many French, following the tour around or simply camping out on mountaintops and roadsides in hopes of seeing favorite riders rush past in a colorful blur of man and machine makes perfect sense. Imagine a month-long tailgate party, if you will. Though it’s an international event, drawing talent from every continent except Antarctica, the idea of significant portions of the country hitting pause to indulge a sporting event seems quintessentially French.

Steak frites

Steak frites

Perhaps some people are thinking this as they tuck into steak frites, cooked nicely saignant (bloody) at Parc Bistro and Brasserie. Do they realize how inextricably French this humble dish is?

Badoit French sparkling water

Badoit French sparkling water

The whole menu, in fact, seems designed to emphasize an idea of French food. Escargot drenched in butter and herbs; steak tartare, onion soup, and frisee salad with lardons and poached eggs; foie gras, bone marrow, and Provençale tapenade; coq au vin and duck confit. How French indeed.

In an era which prizes inventiveness above all else, we’ve come to expect cleverness in restaurant menus, but there’s little of that to be found at Parc. Instead it’s as if the restaurant wants us to tune into a state of mind that would be content to sit for an entire day on a narrow roadway twisting up the slope of Mont Ventoux, drinking wine and waiting for a bike race to thunder by for all of 30 seconds.

It’s not so much about the spectacle as it is about the circumstances, surroundings, and the traditions. Call it “indulging your Frencher side,” and it’s probably good for us all.

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