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Tour de France Deuxieme Partie

By Lavender June 20, 2008

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During my visit for an “Off the Eaten Path” column about Patrick’s Bakery and Café at Bachman’s, Azita Bernet, co-owner and wife of Chef Patrick Bernet, invited me to experience the “white linen tablecloth” version of the business, Patrick’s Bistro. She shared some of her favorite dishes with me as I wrote them down. The following week, my partner, Chad, and I checked out the establishment for what I now call “le deuxième partie” (second part) of my original column.

Sacah Cake.

Patrick’s Bistro is off Lake Street on Broadway Avenue along Lake Minnetonka in Wayzata. It’s a picturesque area with many interesting shops, including one of my favorite bookstores: Bookcase of Wayzata, where you can purchase my cookbook. Tons of parking spaces were available on the street, in parking lots, and in a large parking ramp next to Patrick’s Bistro. But I was having a communication challenge with Chad: “Just park anywhere” was not registering. Finally, he found a space that suited him, and we walked to the bistro.

Large pots of flowers in animated colors lined the sidewalk seating area. The majority of the tables were occupied by 7 PM, but I was in an indoor mood. We walked into a wonderful open room with white-linen-covered tables. Smells coming from the open kitchen announced we were in heaven. We chose a table by the window, and our culinary adventure began.

Manager Steven Brown suggested something to refresh us as we reviewed the menu. He started us with an aperitif: a Kir made with Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine ($8). Our server, a handsome young man named Dan, brought to our table a warm baguette with creamery butter. Moments later, we were presented with an amuse bouche of Salmon Croquette with Spring Greens and Lavender Vinaigrette. The lavender was exceptionally appealing and welcome. It had a refreshing aftertaste that both Chad and I commented on.

Our table was full of French goodies, but I remembered Azita telling me we must try the Salade de Lavande—a duo of goat cheese and mozzarella turnovers on a bed of mixed greens and lavender vinaigrette ($11). She said it was her favorite appetizer. She also mentioned the Homemade Foie Gras with Mango Compote ($18), but we settled on the Salade de Lavande.

We enjoyed the warm baguette, and sipped our Kir aperitifs with delight. We were smiling, enjoying the music and the friendliness of the staff. Already, it was an ideal evening.

Our appetizer arrived: two beautiful bundles of goat cheese and mozzarella in puff pastry on a colorful bed of greens. The goat cheese was warm and luscious—purchased not from the local grocery store, but from a cheese expert. Again, the lavender vinaigrette was refreshing.

Chilled Gaspacho.

As we enjoyed our impressive food, the bistro had filled. Many tables of diners had come and gone by the time we had finished our appetizer. We were taking pleasure in our surroundings and the first hour of food. Because we travel to Europe, we’re used to making our visit to a bistro or trattoria into an evening event. Why should that change in the Twin Cities?

For our entrée, we had many fabulous dishes from which to choose: Grilled Salmon—fresh grilled salmon served with béarnaise sauce ($22); Seared Sea Bass—sea bass pan-seared with green and red pepper coulis over a vegetable tart ($27); or Bocconi Scaloppini—turkey breast wrapped with prosciutto, mozzarella, and basil served with salad frisée ($15). Chad ordered Filet Mignon Rossini—hand-carved filet mignon with foie gras and black truffles ($33)—while I selected Sautéed Shrimp—sautéed shrimp with pancetta atop a leek tart and a balsamic reduction ($22). Both dishes were astonishing.

Patrick’s Bistro has a wonderful wine list from which to order by the glass or bottle. I chose the Domaine la Tour Penedesses Languedoc ($9/glass). Brown served our wine, explaining that it was considered a “picnic wine.” I commented that it was perfect for our dinning experience—a fabulous French picnic by Lake Minnetonka.

Brown capped our evening off with a trio of desserts for which Patrick’s is famous: Lavender Crème Brûlée, Le Délice Passion Cake, and Trilogie Chocolate Cake ($4.95 each).

Everything we ordered was perfect, so we had cheerful mouths. Two hours and fifteen minutes after we arrived, we had reached culinary ecstasy. It was with reluctance that we said, “Salut, et au revoir.”

Dining Area. Photo by Hubert Bonnet

In my first column about Patrick’s Bakery and Café, Azita called their pastry creations “eatable jewelry.” Now that I have visited all three of Patrick and Azita’s culinary facilities, I feel that I’ve experienced the emperor’s complete ensemble of culinary costumes and adornments.

John Michael Lerma is a local chef, author, and Food Network personality. His company Garden County Cooking offers cookbooks, cooking classes, consulting, private events, and culinary vacations to Italy and the Caribbean. Visit www.GardenCounty.info. Check out his “Word of Mouth” Blog under Extras at LavenderMagazine.com.
Patrick’s Bistro
331 Broadway Ave. S., Wayzata
(952) 345-6100

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