Went to a French restaurant on Saturday for our annual Christmas party. The restaurant is named after a painting but I’m loth to name it because if more people go there then there will be less chance I’ll be able to get a table. This is what I look like when I go to a French restaurant. I’m pretty sure the owner thought I was French.
The Christmas party is usually at my house where I cook something festive (we had mulled wine last year, too) and prepare stockings but this year I was too busy (Gawd, George! Everyone has 24 hours in a day! What makes you so busy?!) so it was decided that we’d try this French restaurant. I always have super low expectations for non-Korean food in Korea, especially if the restaurant is advertising itself as authentic (전통 ‘traditional’ in Korean). For example, the Greek restaurants in Seoul call themselves authentic yet serve a yeeros plate. Son, that’s Greek takeaway food. Perhaps authentic is one of those buzzwords Korean restauranteurs like to use to signal premium prices.
One advantage of having really low expectations is that it doesn’t take much to impress me.
The food was very good, though not strictly French. There was a Russian soup, which was exactly like a beef burgundy but without the red wine. There was a caesar salad (not named after Julius Caesar but after the restaurateur who invented it), and a pasta. There was also a mousse for desert. The highlight for me was the Chateaubriand steak, followed closely by the caesar salad for the sole reason that it had prosciutto. I tried making Chateaubriand once but forgot that my pan had a plastic handle so it melted a little in the oven. Their steak was served with a nice mustard. This kind of steak can also be served with a reduced sauce of shallots, butter, and tarragon. Here’s the chef preparing it for us (not my photo).
Strangest thing of the evening was not when the tenderloin was brought out for us to see before it was cooked. It was when several of my friends started taking photos of the raw meat, as every butcher sells this cut. The Maitre d’ told us the tenderloin had been freshly procured that very morning.
Before the steak course we had our traditional Secret Santa event. The Korean version allows you to steal another’s gift rather than open a gift yourself. But beware, someone my steal the gift you just stole. Obviously it is best to be the last person to choose since you will know what all but one of the gifts are and there is no risk of someone taking your gift away. If your gift is stolen, you may open another gift from the pile.
This year the gift I prepared was whiskey balls. Everyone loved sucking on my whiskey balls.
The other part of the Secret Santa gift was a winter hat. I got myself one of these too so together we could be hat twins!
In all, a good evening with good people. I agree with The American that some things were a little off: the waitress looked like she was going hiking or had just returned from hiking; one of the books on the shelves was called ‘Korean Taliban’ (한국인 타레반); there were pictures of Brittany as well as pictures of Venice; people at another table looked like they ordered Chinese delivery.