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La Bergerie Offering

La Bergerie Offering

By Jordan Wright
November 2008

During the 18th century all things pastoral were idealized by French nobility with the imagined notion that the peasants were enjoying a life of simpler and more passionate pleasures. Toile de Jouy, the fabric typical of the day, exemplifies that fantasy with its bucolic scenes of amorous flute-playing shepherds and their fashionably attired lovers.

La Bergerie which translates into “the shepherd’s cottage” evokes that romantic atmosphere. And to emphasize that I saw several couples sitting side-by-side in the luxurious tufted-leather banquettes, holding hands, gazing into each other’s eyes and stealing kisses.

Located in the historic Crilley warehouse, one block from the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, its rustic brick walls create a warm ambience. Candle and chandelier-lit with crisply ironed linens and sparkling glass and table ware, the room emanates Old World charm and the extensive menu showcases traditional recipes straight from the pages of the French bible, “Larousse Gastronomique”.

The service which was top-drawer and unobtrusive came from an era long past…one that was de rigeur in the grand hotel dining rooms of the world where haute cuisine was the norm. Here every detail is attended to and waiters are skilled in the tableside preparation of Dover sole, crepes Suzettes and Caesar salad.

An amuse bouche of diver scallop with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and topped with foie gras began our foray. The silken scallop perfectly pan-seared in butter.

As an appetizer the chef accommodated my request for sweetbreads with a Chantalle sauce tasting of deeply flavored veal “fond” that would otherwise have gone with veal tenderloin as an entrée. Its crisp crust tasted of fresh breadcrumbs and paired well with my chardonnay. An in-house made Duck Pate de Campagne with all the accoutrements showed a confident hand and in the bread basket the pain du jour was topped with bright green basil butter…a pleasant surprise.

La Bergerie Signature Disk

La Bergerie Signature Disk

The Dover sole prepared by the waiter tableside in a gleaming copper fish pan was bathed in a fresh herb Meuniere sauce and the roasted pheasant roulade stuffed with pork mousse and truffle was accompanied by lovely miniature fall vegetables.

Dessert choices were so tantalizing it was sheer torture to select only one. But at La Bergerie they cater to the indecisive connoisseur by offering something called “Les Trois”. Beautifully fashioned on a large rectangular plate with a puddle of pistachio sauce in the center was a molten chocolate cake, a glass cup filled with brandied cherries in crème fraiche (so divine it couldn’t be legal) and a towering tuile filled with croquant a l’orange. Texture, architecture, flavor and artistry had joined forces in an inspired and delicious confection!

Here is what is so perfect about the restaurant. When I mentioned my predilection for tuiles, especially the pistachio tuile of Le Jules Vernes, the restaurant run by Chef Alain Ducasse high above Paris in the Eiffel Tower, the young woman who served our dinner told me that she had enjoyed them there a few years earlier. I was so intrigued by such a learned and well-traveled server that I asked where she was from. Caroline is from the region of Auvergne but received her Masters degree in Paris. All the servers in the restaurant seemed to be of French descent which was surely why everything was so consummately and perfectly French, which goes to say the restaurant does things exactly the way things should always be done.

When you go to La Bergerie you will meet the very elegant and handsome owner, Laurent Janowsky, who during his eight years as owner, has created a Francophile’s gastronomic dream here in Alexandria. He will greet you with his generous smile and ask if there is anything he can get for you. You will know at once you are in the right place. And when you go to enjoy this wondrous dining experience take along someone you love.

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