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October 22, 2008

The brasserie trend

BrasseriesTrendy.jpgGailor, whose hipness quotient is still up there even though she's moved to Evanston, Ill., sent me an e-mail alerting me to the brasserie trend happening in Los Angeles. Apparently she learned about it because she still subscribes to Los Angeles magazine.

Then the other day I saw that USA Today did a trend story on brasseries in LA, and how all the stars are eating at them. (Who knows? Maybe the paper "borrowed" the idea from the magazine. Or maybe it's a real trend that various people are noticing.)

Why do we care? Because these trends that start in California usually work their way east, and eventually to us. ...

We already have one Baltimore brasserie, of course, Brasserie Tatin -- although I don't know that in the U.S. we make much of a distinction between bistros (Petit Louis), brasseries and French cafes (a la Cafe de Paris in Columbia).

Basically the idea of them all is French and casual (although Tatin can be quite formal about its food). I'm not sure what the trend is except maybe that traditional casual French food is making a comeback? I'm thinking of coq au vin and steak frites.


(Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:36 AM | | Comments (16)


What is the difference between a brasserie and a bistro?

Hal -- see this Chowhound board discussion.

brasserie - an informal usually French restaurant serving simple hearty food

bistro - a small or unpretentious restaurant

So I guess a brasserie is more pretentious.

Ah, Tart Tatin...

I was watching a rerun of Anthony Bourdain's return to the kitchen (for 1 night) at Basserie Les Halles in NY. He said one of the defining characteristics of a brasserie is having a vast number of items on the menu.

no updates for the past 5 hours? boring

Our network has been down. Think how bored I've been. EL

Brasserie: an informal usually French restaurant serving simple hearty food

Bistro: 1: a small or unpretentious restaurant
2 a: a small bar or tavern b: nightclub

Since the downed network apparently ate my original response to Hal, I'll repost a link to a Chowhound discussion on the subject. Basically, brasserie is the French word for brewery, and a "classic" brasserie would offer a limited beverage menu apart from its own beers. A "classic" bistro, by contrast, would have wine or a full bar.

Talk about boring, Anonymous! I read The Midnight Sun blog where there lurk pimple faced 13 y.o.s discussing Lindsay Lohans breasts and giggling at her lesbian relationship. What twits!

Is there anything better than casual french? Steak frites is my favorite, Goes great with bourbon, too. We can only hope this trend comes our way.

I was thinking of serving steak frites and coq au vin (and okay, fish if we must) at the wedding, but I think Kate (et al.) scared off my man.... he approved the china (wedgwood) yesterday, but today all he wants to talk about is how the Os are doing. I don't think he even knows their season has been long over. Sigh. At least it will be a while now before we have to argue about how the duck he wants to serve is too expensive.

Joyce, come back to the Dark Side! Don't go there! It is much more important to discuss, say, where to get real onion rings, or the reservation policy at Tio Pepe's than young, drunk celebrity tourists!

Don't worry, Lissa. I have no intention of visiting pre-puberty land again. I prefer the intellectual pursuit of real onion rings! It was like drinking grape juice when you really want a good glass of wine!

And on this blog no one cares about anyone's sexual preferences ... but we can have a good fight over foie gras or bacon.

Fear not Bourbon Girl, I am sure that we can accomodate our different tastes in food, which ironically for this venue, have very little overlap. As for duck, my side of the wedding are all raptors so it may have to be BYOD. I've had the Pretender's song I'll Stand By You in my head all morning. So even if you want steak frites and coq au vin (which I interpret as chicken fried steak with monkey bread), we can work it out. Maybe we could get Chrissie Hynde for the music, since my first choice Richard Hell is currently unavailable. And I still want my fugu bar. Can Snickers be the best man?

I'm all smooth down there. I have no preference.

I don't remember where I heard or read this distinction: brasserie's offer a wider and more standardized menu of things they can do all the time, while a bistro owner creates a smaller menu that varies from season to season or even week to week. The rule of thumb that went with this was always order off the menu at a brasserie (instead of the specials) and always order a special at a bistro. My guess is that this pertains to French establishments rather than American ones.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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