A departure from the ordinary is always welcome.
When the owners of Bistro Byronz elected to bring another concept to Baton Rouge they decided what the Capital City needed wasn’t another pizza place. Instead, the team shifted focus from Italy to the Franco-German border, and Flambée Café was born.
What a welcome addition this restaurant is.
Billing itself as "French Fired Fare," Flambée Café is tucked away in the Willow Grove development on Perkins Road. Inside, the restaurant is a bright, elegant space with an open kitchen. The star of the show is in that kitchen — an oven that yields tartes flambées, thin crusted Alsatian-style flatbreads that satisfy.
The menu is rife with choices: tartes flambées ranging from The Traditionelle ($8.95) featuring bacon, Vidalia onion, and tangy creme fraiche (the thinner French cousin to sour cream); to hot or cold open-faced French sandwiches; an array of salads; and even a selection of Pots-Au-Feu, French stews served in small crocks with French, German and some Cajun themes.
Strains of French pop music greeted me on a late weeknight visit, and a light crowd made it possible for a prompt and attentive server to explain the menu. I opted for the tarte flambée Champignon ($10.95) featuring the same elements as the Traditionelle with the addition of sauteed mushrooms, basil and goat cheese. Arriving on a nifty cutting board platter, it was an oval-shaped flatbread with a thin, crackery crust. Its flavors were superb, but it could have been served hotter, arriving at the table just a notch over lukewarm.
Still, this dish was a winner and made me eager to try the other 10 tartes flambées, which range from the flavors of Provence to fried chicken, cured salmon, and Louisiana boudin.
I couldn’t resist finishing dinner off with an oven-fired dessert. I sampled the S’mores Flambée ($5.95), a small tarte with crisp, airy roasted marshmallows, chocolate sauce and crunchy nutmeg-scented crumble. C'était magnifique!
Flambée Café also features a charming patio dining space perfect for our recently-arrived cool fall days. A lunch visit on one such day produced a craving for comfort food, and another helpful server suggested the Meatball Bourguignon ($10.95), a Pot-Au-Feu riff on classic French beef stew.
A crock of three substantial meatballs, carrots and mushrooms arrived covered in melted cheese, along with some chunks of baguette to sop up the Burgundy gravy. Also provided for the bread was a smear of terrific rosemary and garlic butter.
The meatballs could have been a little lighter in texture, but their savory flavor was spot-on. Don’t be alarmed at the pink in the middle of them, that’s just Flambée Café’s clever addition of bacon to the meatballs, completing the flavor profile of Bouef Bourguignon. Hearty, filling and delicious.
Other offerings in this category are the Chicken Coq au Vin Blanc, chicken thighs in a white wine sauce; and Teutonic-themed Spaetzel Avec, dumplings tossed in butter, herbs, cherry tomatoes and artichokes brought home by the addition of blackened Louisiana shrimp.
After two visits, we're ready to go back, and with good reason. Flambée Café infuses Old World flavors with some local twists to bring an innovative new concept to the capital area.
8210 Village Plaza Court, Baton Rouge
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
INFO: Visit flambeecafe.com or call (225) 960-1100.
PROS: Excellent service, design and flavor combinations on tarte flambées, tartines and pots-au-feu.
CONS: A few dishes could have been served at a hotter temperature.