January 16, 2011

Bistro Merlot

A friend of mine and I always meet for some food and wine indulgence during the Christmas break. I'm not really sure how it started, but now it has become tradition and we really plan on where we should go and what to eat.

This year though we had a bit of trouble finding a place. The first place we thought about were closed, the second one was already full and we were there already at 6 o'clock. They don't take reservation so I guess we just managed to come 10 minutes after the first wave of guests. With -15 outside walking all over town wasn't really on the agenda so we decided to try a new place called Merlot just around the corner from where we were.

The latest restaurant trend at least in Sweden is French bistro styled restaurants where you can get traditional French food without paying a fortune. Merlot certainly looked like a French bistro and when we read on the menu outside that they had both escargot and crème brûlée along with champagne by the glass we had to give it a try.

It was still rather empty inside so we got a table as far as possible from the door and the freezing cold. Before even looking at the menu we decided to start with a glass of champagne. Maybe not the best quality champagne but nevertheless bubblies.

For starters we decided to share a plate of escargots. I don't think I had had escargots since my last trip to Paris and that was 5 years ago. The plate arrived still sizzling hot, but unfortunately lacked that garlicky zing that should come with escargots. There was garlic but not enough to remove the salty taste. Still dipping the bread in the remaining juice was divine and we slowly started to feel that it was going to be a good night after all.

For main course I went with lemon and lavender marinated chicken breast with chevre risotto. As a hardcore risotto lover I couldn't pass up the chance of trying a new twist to risotto. And it really was something to die for. The goat cheese matched the chicken and lemon perfectly. I'm pretty sure there was paremesan cheese as well in the risotto as well just to get that creamy consistency. Clergy a chef that knew how to make a risotto. Having tasted a lot of Pinot Noirs during the autumn and actually starting to like it I decided to have a glass of Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir '04. A good choice.

When it was time for dessert we didn't have to look at the menu. We were going to have crème brûlée and to top it off a glass of Sauternes La Dauphin de Guiraud '02. We have had better crème brûlées and the Sauternes was a bit too cold, but still a very nice ending to a evening of French food and reminiscing Paris where both my friend and I used to spend a lot of time.

It was still early after we had had dessert so we went for another glass of wine. This time I tried Beringer Founders Estate Zinfandel. A lot of fruit, jam and hints of vanilla and licorice. Very nice. An open fire, sofa and I could have been there all night. Instead we had to head home and the temperature had now gone all the way down to -20. Brr! Of course I just managed to miss the bus and there were no taxis in sight so I had to walk home. That was one cold walk, but at home a warm and cosy bed awaited. And a flannel pyjama.

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