Thursday, May 17, 2007


You know what's unnerving? Trying to casually sip your globe of wine while the entire staff of a restaurant watches you in anticipation. Anticipation of what, I'm not sure. The inevitable spill on my cream sweater? A tilt of the head indicating an order? I don't know, but it's damn spooky!
I'd been meaning to get over to Margeaux for a while to check out St. Paul's answer to the neighborhood French bistro. I hoped it might be slightly more French than Cafe Barbette - whose version of bohemian, I think was lifted from a midnight viewing of Moulin Rouge. The problem was that I couldn't find Margaux. Now, you'd think that I'd lived on this side of the river long enough to find my way around. Plus, I even worked in downtown St. Paul for a spell. It's not like it's big! But, alas, no dice. I had to ask my Ambassador to the East - Matt.
We happened to have ended our day early and went over to Margaux at about 6:30 p.m. I paused at the door wondering if it was even open. It was empty! The anxious waitress thanked us for coming in, expressing doubts that anyone was going to show up that night. Apparently, there's not much to do around town on a Wednesday evening. I placed a wine order and we were seated at the primo table. Great view of the pawn shop and flop house next door. Now, this was probably the most adorable flop house in the city, gaily painted with bright colors and murals... but still. And that's all we had to look at because the unnerving, staring staff was leaning over the bar, gaping. We put in an order for the escargot. I am not a huge fan of the snails, but a big, big fan of garlic butter. These were tasty. They came boiling in their little sauce of molten butter, sprightly parsley and the cloaked assailant - garlic. Wow, did that pack a punch. They were delicious. Matt was making his yummy face while, "hhhmmmmmm!"ing loudly. Superb.
For an entree we ordered the beef tenderloin. Thankfully, this was when someone else showed up. New diners to stare at! YAY! Whew, took some of the pressure off. I ordered another glass of the Cotes du Rhone. It was a delicious bottle, very bright, fruity and floral tasting. Also, they serve them in these glasses the size of my 7th grade Social Studies teacher's globe. HUGE! And round! They split the plate for us, which should have cost us, but they thankfully, didn't charge. The beef was cooked to medium rare perfection and dotted with thinly sliced little shitakes. The demi glace drizzled over the plate was deep, think, sweet and salty. Divine. The roasted asparagus were also perfectly cooked. I thoughtfully chewed on it while a mother/daughter team across the street were pawning their Aiwa stereo.
I had planned to order an after dinner cocktail, but it was just so... empty. After finishing off the last decadent bite of beef I was pretty much ready to go. The cocktail list did look delicious. They had an Urban Manhattan and a Jamaican Ginger Ale that both sounded tempting, but the night was early and there were more adventures to be had on the other side of town.
Au revior, Margaux! I hope you've got some more bohemians up your sleeve. A darling little spot like yours should have a bigger fan base.


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