Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Scouring & Devouring Omaha: Le Bouillon Brunch

When we heard there was a new restaurant going in where the French Cafe used to be, we were intrigued to say the least. When we saw Paul Kulik, head chef at the Boiler Room, visiting the Mercer's at La Buvette more frequently and heard the buzz that the group was operning a new venture together, we knew we had to make a reservation as soon as it opened. When we saw that this new venture had a brunch menu, we were practically clawing at the windows to get in.

Le Bouillon (I definitely enjoy putting on my French accent whenever I say the restaurant's name. Try it, it's fun) is certainly a more casual approach to French dining, especially when compared to the former resident, the French Cafe. We made a reservation online for 11 am a few Sundays ago, and by the time we arrived, it was pretty clear we didn't need one - but that's not to say you won't in the future.

The natural light coming through the massive windows is a huge contrast from the former French Cafe's ambience. The more open floor plan also harks back to the space's initial use - a fruit and vegetable warehouse owned by Sam Mercer, which has remained in the Mercer name for decades (along with the rest of the Old Market).

We were seated up front in a room a little more closed off from the main dining area. We loved the black wood, huge windows and white cinderblocks surronding us.  Our server was very friendly, offering to answer any questions we had. Kerry ordered a Classic Bloody Mary while I opted for the Aperol Spritz which was a deliciously sweet, orange flavored drink similar to a Campari (Aperol is apparently made by Campari now) but less bitter and of course less alcohol-y.  

For our main brunch course, it was a tough choice. Kerry ordered the Egg in Brioche Basket with Spinach Cream, adding the ham cracklings, which ended up being the hit of the morning. Good God, that spinach cream was delicious (she was kind enough to share). When we go back, I'm definitely ordering this one for myself.

I wanted to be very French and try something more traditional - the Omelets with Fine Herbs and Salad. The server warned me the omelet might be a bit runny as is typical in French cuisine, but when I sliced into the fluffy eggs, I did not think they were runny at all, but rather butter-y which is something I definitely liked. The omelet could have used more herbs though. For putting the word "herbs" in the title, I felt like the savory side of the dish was a bit lacking. My salad, however, was delicious. Whatever dressing they are using is perfect. It's light and compliments the salad mixture well. My Aperol Spritz did not mesh with my meal very well which was rather disappointing. If I would have known this I would have slammed it before our food arrived and ordered some coffee to accompany the dish, because the coffee smelled delicious.

We also enjoyed listening to what those around us were ordering. Next time we're definitely going to have to try the pastries (Les Toasts) as an appetizer.

Overall, it was really wonderful trying something different for brunch rather than your typically, greasy grand-slam breakfast (not to say we don't enjoy those kinds of brunches too). After brunch, while we were waiting for Vine + Branch to open, we just had to stop down at La Buvette for a few glasses of wine and more conversation. On a chilly Nebraska morning, there's truly nothing better than feeling like your in France, even if it is only for a few hours.

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