By Jim Duncan CVFDude@aol.com
La Mie lights the night
First the good news. Joe Logsdon’s La Mie is a French café of deserved renown and minimal flair. It is a genuine scratch bakery meaning bakers break their own butter and fold it by hand, carrying their dough from sheeting to usage. That’s a two-to-three-hour process that very few American bakeries bother with anymore. La Mie also rolls baguettes by hand and practices true lamination — two lost arts. Six to eight fresh artisan breads are baked each day as are some 30 fresh pastries. Sticky rolls, scones, brioches, croissants, pecan rolls, caramelized apple Danish, cream puff pastries, tarts of seasonal fruits, almond cakes drenched in marzipan and authentic macarons are de rigueur at La Mie. So are excellent sandwiches, soups and salads, all served with the divine breads.
Now the even better news. Logsdon has expanded La Mie into dinner service. He did that once before but this time his focus is different, and it fills two voids in local dining — inexpensive fine dining for families and affordable pairings for white wine drinkers. All La Mie dinner items cost between $7 - $18. Twenty-one wines are priced between $18 - $34, with nine available in carafes measuring one third of a bottle and costing just one-third the price of a full bottle. On each of my visits, six of the eight entrees were seafood dishes while other offerings included omelets, quiches, pasta and rice, salad and antipasti platters of seafood. The kitchen is in the hands of Logsdon protégés Stephen Hallam and Ashton Cross. They demonstrated deft hands during the hectic first weeks of the new service. Of three fish I tried, two were served perfectly moist and flaky and the third was overcooked but only as much as it is usually is in town.
Complimentary bread service was as substantial as an appetizer. One night it came with a “fisherman’s spread” that blended oil, whitefish and potatoes with a slice of deviled egg topped with relish, and plated with cornichons and raw cucumber slices. Another night the spread consisted of a soft cheese inside a roasted pepper with a cucumber-pineapple salsa and olive oil, plated with poached spinach. Saffron risotto presented Arborio rice cooked in butter and homemade chicken stock with an unmistakable flavor of crocus stigmas, the world’s most expensive spice. Asparagus was added late, and shiitake mushrooms were added early enough to absorb the marvelous flavors of the dish. A pizza brought a thick pie topped with hummus, avocado, sprouts, fresh basil and tomato. An antipasti platter of wild salmon included poached spinach, pickled cucumber, sun dried tomatoes and jicama sticks all laid on a bed of fresh basil. A salad included fresh mesclun, craisins, soft cheese, almonds, apples and avocado. French onion soup of homemade beef stock was topped with melted cheese and croutons. Quiches were served in perfect pastries, with bruleed eggs and layers of cheese and other savories. Omelets were offered with spinach and mushrooms, prosciutto and asparagus, or smoked salmon.
My favorite dish was a perfectly poached sea bass, on creamy polenta with kale, leeks and broiled acorn squash. A tombo (albacore) wasn’t quite the fish the bass was, but it didn’t cost as much either. Grilled ribeye, aged 21 days, was served with a de facto de Burgo sauce of butter and oil with two sides.
Opera cake, raspberry tarts, macarons and several chocolate offerings comprised the lightest, least expensive dessert menu in town. La Mie’s kid’s menu also cut new ground. For $4 - $5, kids could choose among soup, salad, Jello or a vegetable plate as well as among an egg dish, pasta, turkey antipasti or a grilled ham and cheese.
Long awaited batch 4 from Templeton Rye goes on sale Dec. 6, the day after the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. CV
Salmon antipasti at La Mie Bakery & Café, 841 42nd St., 255-1625. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday, 4 to 9 p.m.