Watching "Ratatouille" reminds me that I haven't told you about a wonderful (and simple) French dish I had at Benson's Steak House. Early in December, before it got brutally cold in the Northeast, Shawn and I found ourselves in Manhattan, and one thing I like to do when I get there is make a beeline for Benson's. I've been there five or six times now. The first time, I was walking around in the cold, trying to decide where to eat, and liked the menu in the window and the inviting look of the place. I walked in, asked if they could fit in a single with no reservation, and they gave me a small table by the wine cooler with a view of the dining room. Each time I've gone in by myself, they've made room for me, even though the place is always packed.
Shawn and I had a charming table in the crowded restaurant, and I had, as I have before, one of the biggest Gibsons I've had anywhere. No mistaking my order and bringing me a vodka martini here! Our waiter was charming, and even let Shawn take his picture.
I ordered a full-sized tenderloin done au poivre, cooked rare. It was luscious. The fact that it sat like a gut bomb afterward is neither here nor there. It was either that or the basket of bread I ate waiting for the steak and creamed spinach to arrive.
Shawn had a tenderloin and a delicious potato dish. We shared the potatoes and spinach.
Steak au poivre (sometimes called "pepper steak", but not to be confused with the "pepper steak" that denotes beef cooked with green bell peppers) involves pounding crushed (not ground) peppercorns into the steak at room temperature, then searing it over high heat, and deglazing the pan with cognac and cream, which is then poured over the steak.
Every tender bit, dragged through the sauce. Succulent. Savory.
And the service was great. It was fun to watch the waiters navigate the crowded room with dessert carts, huge lobsters, trays of drinks. No wonder I like going back there.